A Dark Horizon…

I am writing this in what feels a stolen piece of time, a writing ‘on the sly’, like I am hiding from someone.

The truth is, I am hiding from my mental illness. I woke up today, and could not function. I had hit near-rock bottom. I could not shower, wash the dishes, or perform my usual tasks. Knitting plain stitch felt difficult. After dragging myself around the house for a few hours, I went back to bed. I napped.

Mercifully, I felt better. I cooked, showered, prepared the dishes to be washed tomorrow morning, and wrote (because that’s another part of my essential tasks, haha). Now, I feel like I don’t want to go to sleep. I don’t want this burst of feel-good to end. I’m afraid that my illness is creeping back, seizing my life in its grip, and taking over again. I’m afraid of having to go into the hospital, if I keep backwards sliding. I’m worried about the pressure of keeping it all up is placing on my already sick wife.

I know I’ve been through a lot lately. I’m grieving, my social worker says. It’s hard, and understandable. But the anxiety, the brain fog is returning. The strange non-pain in my head that means I can’t think has come back. The strange compulsions (eat the candy bar or you’ll DIE!) are making a comeback as well.

I never wanted this to happen. I’m worried I’m already at too high of a dosage of abilify to amp it up to combat my symptoms. I don’t know what my psychiatrist will say when I see her this coming week. I’m worried there’s nothing to do but rest.

I don’t like feeling like this. I don’t want to be here again.

But you know what? In all this, maybe as a compulsion, maybe as a window of hope, I actually have an idea on how to begin writing a non-fiction book I’ve been wanting to do for years now. Maybe, just maybe, something good will come from this.

Anyways, thoughts and prayers are appreciated. It’s rough right now.

A Polytheist/Pagan Framework for Healing Mental Illness

IMG_3440Let’s talk about healing. But more specifically, healing as polytheists, as pagans, as wiccans.

I often see the ‘use nature’ way of healing promoted by these groups of people, as if nature alone can heal a soul/broken mind/damaged brain/whatever you want to call it. But, as someone who just moved back to the countryside and is in the middle of experiencing it’s effects upon myself, I’ve got some fresh arguments to post about that. In fact, I’ve had a flash of inspiration and have come up with ‘a thing’. Hopefully it’s the start of something positive. At worst it’s a flub.

Now here’s a thing I was told by a social worker. They told me that 30% of the work in healing comes from medication, and the rest is all therapy and self-work.

And that’s a balance I think we can all strive for. To take our medication as well as working on ourselves spiritually and enjoying nature.

Here I’m going to go out on a limb and propose a thing: a polytheist schema for healing mental health. I’m totally making this up and pulling it from my own experience and have Zero Sources for this. So take it with a bit of salt (and sage too haha).

I’m proposing that we, as a community, approach healing as necessitating 30% medication, 30% self work, 30% environmental help, and 10% divine intervention.

Let’s break this down.

30% medication

Well if you’ve been on this blog for a second or two, you’ll see that I am a huge advocate for medication. You’ll read that it’s really helped me, and that I have a sliver of trust in the doctors and social workers that treat me. Hence, I am following this, and sticking to their 30%.  For those who may be new to this blog: I believe that medication can be effective, wholesome, and positive if well done and properly supervised. Pro tip: not all doctors are wholesome and count as proper supervision. Sometimes they rush the process and don’t listen. Get one that you click with.

30% Self Work

Why such a big percentage for self work? Because I’ve found it to be exceedingly important. Or, as someone else I know was told by their doctor ‘you have to want to get better’. You have to be active in the process. Are you anxious? Work on it. Are you psychotic? Work on it.

How do I propose we ‘work on it’? I propose meditation (within reason), self-reflection, journaling, and basically anything that makes you conscious of yourself and helps you improve on that.

30% Environmental Help

Now here’s where my recent experiences come in. Yes, being in nature helps. But it’s not always all about nature. Sometimes it’s about the people who surround us, talk with us, and who are our therapists and doctors. These people and spirits (depending on how involved you are with your spirits) have a large influence on us. They can support us or tear us down. Having support around us is immensely important, so that’s why I’m boosting it up to an equal 30%

10% Divine Intervention

I’ve had divine intervention in my life, in my healing process. And I truly think that they have a part to do in it all. They are the door openers, door keepers, and opportunity presenters. But will they open the doors for us? Will they zap us better? Very rarely. It’s mainly us who has to do the work (up in that 30%). So that’s why I leave divine intervention at 10%. You can expect their help, but not too much, and not too often. You can expect to do the hard work yourself, because this is your path.

I’m not saying that spirituality need only play a 10% part of your life. I’m saying that’s the work your Deities will do with/for you. But the gods count as support and spiritual activities can count as self-care and self-work. Spirituality in itself overlaps in all the layers, even in our approach to our medication.

In conclusion? I honestly just came up with this, but it rings true to me (can we call it divine inspiration?) and more importantly, it gives a framework that, I find, encompasses my experiences. I will be writing more, hopefully coming up with more details and a healing system/process for pagans and polytheists out there. Details may change, I may recant and decide the whole ting is schmuck, but I’m trying to reach out and help.

I really  believe that, as a community, we need to come up with methods and techniques and frameworks within which to heal and help those with mental illnesses and mental health problems. I’d really love to hear your input on this, in order to help start a conversation. Each and every one of you has experiences that can help us, as a community, move towards more methods to heal.

Moving and Claiming my own Inner Power

I’ve moved!

No, not on the internet. Physically, IRL, I’ve moved!

Now I could rant about how tiring it was, how dramatic the day we moved ‘the big stuff’ was, but I have found something more interesting to talk about.

You see, I’ve been fortunate enough to move into the countryside. And lo and behold, I’m relaxing in a way, on a deeper level, than I have in recent times. It feels good on the soul, like I’m putting a balm on a wound. My night spasms have gotten better. I’m sleeping better. I feel like I can just sit and relax, without having to ‘do something’. My hypervigilance is at an all-time low.

Is living in nature the only solution? Well, no. I currently upped my anti-depressant,  have started seeing changes in my body due to the hormones I’m taking, and have moved next to a friend (with my lovely wife). But all this together? It seems to be doing me wonders.

But, to take a note from my last appointment with my psychiatrist, what am I doing to make things go well? You see, I tend to focus upon the negative, but when things go well (as they are now) I tend to place the power into my circumstances. In doing so, I give my situation all the power over myself and leave none for me.

So. What am I doing that is making me better? I feel like I am ‘individuating’ as Jung would say. I take the time to relax and ‘just be’. I sit outside and meditate next to my little pond (yes I have a mucky little pond haha). I spend time out of doors relaxing in nature and near trees. I seperate my will from that of others.

What about that last point?

You see, I tend to allow others to define me. If they disagree with my being trans, it throws me all into a kerfuffle to say the least. But lately, I visited a church as a way of meeting my local community (and met no locals, surprisingly). In said church, during the sermon, the pastor railed on about the ‘attack on the family structure’ and various other things. As a trans person sitting there, I knew that he was railing about people like me.

And, surprisingly, I didn’t let it bother me. I kept myself from giving a damn. I seperated myself, my desires and life and beliefs, from his.

I also decided to not go back to that church despite the social pressure to go back. Another step forward for me, choosing my own health over the desires of others. It was difficult, but I did it.

And that’s all for now, lovelies. I hope this has helped some of you, or at least shone a bit of light on how various factors can help our mental health. I’ll try and take some nice pictures of my new home for y’all!

More Ranger Thoughts

ranger sky.jpeg

Life has been fairly up and down for me lately, I must admit. I’ve not been doing so well. Which is what this picture above is all about. Ranger, you see, is one of my oldest characters and perhaps one I resonate with the most. She suffers from mental illness but doesn’t let it get her down. She’s constantly rising above her symptoms and obstacles and finding ways to scurry around and do things her way, and on her own terms. Sometimes that means she does the strangest things – but always with lots of brain behind it. For me, she’s a character that’s truly free, truly doing what she wants. Of course we can’t really all be like that, but sometimes it’s nice to dream. Sometimes I wish that I wouldn’t get myself down so hard, that I wouldn’t compare myself so much to others, and that my brain wasn’t so treacherous a place to be. But then, in moments like that I tend to think of Ranger and her weirdness and freedom, and a little part of me feels free as well. Through her? With her? Who knows.

Psychosis and Meditation

So I’m not sure how to write this. Part of me wants to retell you my story, about how I used to meditate so much. Part of me wants to just dive in with my revelation of the morning.

Let’s start with my history then. I used to meditate a LOT. In my teens, I used to do (unsupervised) meditations where I could push myself into ecstasy, could feel the chemistry changing in my brain, could push myself into euphoria, and generally felt enlightened. Then, around age 18, I had what I refer to as my first psychotic break. While lying in bed and doing nothing particular, I was suddenly euphoric, on pink and blue fluffy clouds. In the following few days I became convinced my best friend was possessed by a demon, and got lost in familiar places.

Well, in the ensuing shit-storm that was my life for the next few years, I kept trying to meditate. It often inexplicably made things worse. Like just a few months ago, I tried meditating five times a day and inexplicably started having what I believe are psychotic symptoms again (feeling oneness with the divine, seeing ‘patterns’ everywhere, illogical thoughts, etc).

Now here’s the thing -> Meditation can cause brief psychotic episodes.

WHAT?!

I know, right? But after speaking with my psychiatrist who told me that meditation seemed to be a trigger for my derealization and recently wanting to meditate again, I did a little bit of googling this morning.

“Meditation can act as a stressor in vulnerable patients who may develop a transient psychosis with polymorphic symptomatology.”

“In fact, unguided meditation practices can be harmful for people with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder and have indeed been documented as worsening the psychotic symptoms of some individuals.”

And here I was, trying to ‘meditate my way’ out of it, believing that meditation could only help. Well no!

I’ve linked the articles in my quotes above, but the jist is that unsupervised meditation can cause temporay psychotic symptoms in people who’ve had the symptoms before.

The key things here seem to be ‘unguided’ meditation, wherein the person goes into deep trances unsupervised. I’m guessing that these states can be triggers for the derealization and other symptoms. At least that’s how I experienced it.

Furthermore, the good news is that these symptoms are temporary. My psychotic symptoms after intense meditation went away on their own. They were short term. So the good news is that if you get fresh symptoms after meditating, chances are they will go away.

The bad news is that my long-term symptoms never went away in my periods of low meditation. They still need medication, but are very well controlled.

Anyways, I’m not a doctor nor am I trying to frighten anyone. But please, please, be cautious about meditating if you already have experienced psychotic symptoms. It may bring them back, and even if you don’t have psychotic symptoms, I still urge caution!

Wow. It’s been a while

Hi everyone! Wow, it really has been a while (hence, this title) . Don’t worry, this blog isn’t dead yet. It is just… out of color? Out of time? Out of… energy? Lately I’ve been on a new dosage of medication and I’ve been… *drumroll…. Absorbed by the horrors of Netflix.

What, oh what, have I been watching? Let me blow your minds.

What has over sixty episodes, is a giant drama suck, and contains copious LOTR rip-off hairdos? ICE FANTASYYYYYY. Yep. Ice fantasy. I’ve been binging it. All of its terrible dramatic moments, all those horrid special effects, and the occasional terrible ‘muahaha’ villain laugh. Who am I kidding? There’s like two giant ‘muahahaha’ per episode of half an hour (ish). That’s a lot of ‘muahahaha’, y’all.

Anyways, muahahaha and terrible wigs aside (let’s not get started on those wigs, y’all) I have been well. it’s just… I lack organization when it comes to this blog. Other social media ventures and projects have gained steam and sapped my time, and now I find myself seriously missing this blog. The sense of something it gives me (not gonna lie, I like to feel like I’m helping people, even if it’s just to show them they’re not alone). So all that to say, I’m not done. I’m far from done. But… I’m still slow. I promise I have a back-load of stuff to share with you, but I just haven’t been able to get around to sharing it for some reason, but I will. I will keep this blog going because I love it, and I really really care about it. It’ll just have its ups and downs, so please be patient.

But do I have any good news to share with you? AH! Well! I do! Guess who is finally getting their permanent disability paperwork completed? YASSS! And how is this possible? BECAUSE I HAVE AN AMAZING PSYCHIATRIST NOW!!!

*Glitter! Glitter! Glitteeer!

So that’s it y’all, haha. Good things are happening to me, I have a great therapist/psychiatrist, and my life is moving forward much less dramatically than things unfold on ‘Ice Fantasy’, which is a great thing. I’m going to try and be active on this blog again, and so I look forward to reading all the stuff I’ve missed from y’all! Tag me in things! Link me some of your favorite articles that you’ve written! I want to read them!