Lage’s Game ~Chapter Three, Part One

Mom was shot. She was in surgery now, locked away behind doors I was not allowed past. I sat in a plastic chair, my unicorn on my lap. I was splattered with blood, mom’s blood.

The police said this was unusual. They claimed I could not be right. There could be no correlation between the three break-ins.

“There was no board game listed as stolen in either of the previous break-ins,” the officer, a white redhead, had told me. “It’s not on record. Maybe it wasn’t valuable enough to be mentioned.”

But he seemed doubtful. More than likely, I knew he was thinking, was that I had imagined the whole thing. I had been a child, then.

But I was an adult now. And I knew that what they had been after was that card. Card which, if all things stayed true, had probably been thrown away with my room’s possessions a year ago.

“Hey,” said my uncle, appearing beside me in the starched white hallway. He was wearing a blue button up shirt and pants, his suit jacket missing. His head was shaved, his beard neatly trimmed. “How are you?”

I stared resolutely ahead.

“Okay,” he said gently. “Listen, we’re going to go home to my place, okay?”

I shook my head. Mom was here. I had to keep an eye on her.

Uncle looked around, as if searching for direction. He looked back at me, direction obviously not found. “She’s going to be okay.”

I glared at him.

“Come on,” he said. “Come to my place. We’ll sleep by the phone. The minute she’s out and okay, they’ll let us know. Then we can come back and visit. Okay?”

I shook my head. But he took me by the arm and hauled me to my feet. “Come on,” he said sternly.

I wanted to scream. Tears began running down my face and I braced myself, not wanting to go. I had to stay with mom!

But he dragged me, and after a hallway, I gave in. He was stronger than me. But I would sleep by the phone. I scrubbed my tears from my face and marched with my head held high. I would make sure mom was okay.

///

Mom was in a coma. The news came in at one in the morning that she wasn’t waking up, and might never. Uncle did his best to explain it to me gently, but it was what it was. She, too, was gone, off in an unreachable place. She might never come back, and now, I didn’t expect her to. Father had gone, why wouldn’t she?

Anger burned in me. It was like hot coals in my stomach, under my skin. My blood felt hot. I wanted a gun. I wanted to shoot them in the heads. But no one in my family owned a hunting gun, and there was no way to find ‘them’. According to the police, they were an antiques and collectible theft ring, and usually did not commit murder.

“It’s exceptional, really,” the cop had said as if in awe. Awe at what, I wanted to ask him. Did he think it amazing and commendable to murder people, like some statistic in a video game? Or were these deaths already like Stalin had said, just a statistic?

“You can stay with us for a while,” Uncle had said as he sat on the bed beside me in his dishevelled clothes. “We’ll take you home to get some things.”

I did not want to. I wanted to go home and be with mom. It felt like if only I went home and waited like usual, mom would come home, claiming she had been late from the grocery or something like that.

But I knew that was foolish, so I just sat still and held my stuffie.

“Come on, let’s have some breakfast,” uncle’s wife said from my other side. “How about pancakes?” She was trying to sound cheerful. I hated cheer.

The pancakes were like sandpaper in my mouth. I sat at one side of the table, squished beside my two cousins. They kept looking at me like I was some bomb set to explode. Their mother kept trying to talk to me. I ignored them all. Mother was gone.

After the farce of a breakfast, uncle drove me home. “I can go in and get you your things if you’d rather,” he said as we parked.

I yanked open the door and marched out as an answer. There was a caution tape all around the doorway, and an officer posted there. The scene was too familiar. I knew too well what to do, showing my ID to be let in as uncle explained that we were here to take some things from my room.

A cop escorted us through the crime scene, our living room, and to my room. There, I stopped in the middle of my room and froze. All thoughts flew from my mind.

For an instant, I heard mom screaming. I heard the footsteps. I spun- and was faced with my uncle. “Here,” he was saying. “Let’s take some clothes, okay? How about that?”

I looked around my room. My very still and quiet room.

Okay, I told myself. I scrubbed the tears from my cheeks with a trembling hand. Set my unicorn on the bed to supervise. Then I took out my duffel bag from beneath my bed and shook it out.

A card fluttered out of the bag and landed down before me, between my feet and my uncle’s. He had his back to me, was digging through my dresser drawer, and saw nothing. I looked down at the black card with a diamond at its center.

No shit.

I stooped down, snatched it up, and put it in my pocket. Then, I held out my duffel bag for my uncle to fill with clothes.

When they came for me, I was going to burn it before them. There.

Self-Publishing and Mental Illness ~ A New Voice in History

Now I’m not going to jump up and down and scream that this is the first time that someone with mental illness has ever been published. I’m sure that’s not true. What I am sure about, however, is that this is the first time in history that people with mental illness have really, as a whole, had access to publishing.

Think of how, in history, publishing and getting printed has always been very strictly gate-kept. For something to be printed, it had to be something that people would think would sell, something that, quite often, had to ‘make sense’ and be considered socially acceptable. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, if women from the victorian era had been able to write or even blog about their experiences in the asylums, it might have turned heads and made the whole thing grind to a miserable halt faster than it did.

So what’s my point? This. That indie publishing is not only a chance for the marginalized to write and find each other, it’s a chance for the mentally ill to express themselves and find each other. This, I think, has a large part to play in the perceived ‘low quality’ that pervades the indie publishing scene.

I’m definitely not saying that people with mental illnesses can’t write. That’s not it at all. I’m saying that we speak uncomfortable truths, weirdness, and occasionally gibberish. None of this is suitable for large publishing industries. Just looking back on my own writings, I’m quite sure it’s too ‘bizarre’ and ‘out there’ and mentions suicide and death far too easily for a traditional publisher to even approach.

The thing is, mental illness is taboo. Our experiences and thereby, our stories, will be taboo. We frighten people, our experiences frighten people, and so our stories will be silenced.

But for once, for once, we have a chance to write and express ourselves. For once, we have a voice. This is extraordinary! This is a first.

And yet, this outlet, instead of being lauded for its diversity and potential for the mentally ill community, is being branded as ‘low quality’ and ‘sub-par’ and seen as silly.

There is a stigma related to indie publishing, one that I find to be very similar to being mentally ill. The fact is that indie publishing has some incredible authors in it, and some bad ones, just like traditional publishing.  One is just a system that is mentally ill friendly. The other is incredibly gate-kept and, by virtue of being the way it is, is gate-keeping at its best.

I’d like to say that indie writing is the future, but that’s not necessarily it. Gate-keeping tends to keep itself very much alive, and is adored by the masses. Those who succeed at traditional publishing will probably be adored by the masses. Furthermore, there is a whole host of neurotypical people who are exploiting the indie industry for their own uses. This isn’t a bad thing, but they are, whether they want to or not, bringing the ‘normal’ into a space that, in my opinion, could be dedicated to the ‘abnormal’. They are ‘normalizing’ what could be an ‘abnormal’ space.

I find it incredibly hilarious, in an ironic and sad way, that the only publishing method that is available to the mentally ill is being judged and used by neurotypicals. Now, granted, it wasn’t a dedicated space for the mentally ill. No one owns the indie publishing industry. But, I do have to say, I wish there was a space for the mentally ill to  publish their stories without being crowded out by the neurotypicals.

red rose on white book page
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A Publishing House for the Mentally Ill?

Hey everyone! So, originally I had a very boring post set up to post about how I don’t feel like writing Chaos & Kuryo’s story today. Real thrilling, I know. BUT! Then I was asked for a guest post about publishing and wham! Not only did I write up a post about self-publishing and mental illness (two of them, actually), but I had an idea! A very interesting idea, if you ask me.

Here it is: Wouldn’t it be epic (to say the least) if I was to start a publishing company dedicated to the fiction stories of people with mental illness?

I mean, hear me out. I know there are a bunch of writing collectives out there like ‘the mighty’ and ‘the bipolar writer’ blog. But where do we, the mentally ill, publish our fiction? Well, probably indie, you see. But that’s a space wherein there’s already a TON of neurotypicals out there, publishing stuff that neurotypicals want to read. So where is the space dedicated to the mentally ill people’s fiction?

I don’t think we have one, simply put. We’re just starting to have spaces to talk about getting better and expressing our experiences. Our fiction, as of yet, is still mixed in with everyone else’s.

But, here’s another thing. I’m quite sure that people with mental illness have pretty bizarre and interesting ideas, which would make for very unique and interesting stories that step out of the ordinary. I think this could really be a fun initiative!

Sad fact: I have no idea how to go about making this happen. Anyone, any ideas? How would one go about doing this? Is this something that anyone would be interested in participating in? Give me your thoughts!

close up photo of open book
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Self – Publishing and Mental Illness ~ The Issue No One Talks About

I’d like to say that this topic has been largely discussed, but as with many other topics related to mental illness and mental health, it hasn’t been.

Imagine someone with critical anxiety or paranoia trying to get their manuscript published. I’ve seen someone in such a state try, and believe you me it wasn’t pretty. They did not approach the right publisher, did not know which ones to approach, and ended up giving up after one refusal.

Here’s my point: it really sucks trying to get traditionally published when you’re not in a state of pristine mental health. Heck, even if you are in pristine mental health, I’m sure it’s nerve-wracking.

A lot of the discussion I’ve seen about traditional publishing vs. Indie publishing wails on and on about the poor quality of indie publishing versus the flexibility it allows. Is it worth to self publish, these people ask.

But I’d like to take a step back and point out that – > it’s disabled person friendly. For those of us with mental health issues, it’s not only just so much easier, it’s the only realistic and safe option for us to use.

I’d like to say that I don’t give a rat’s ass about traditional publishing, but that’s not true. It’s seen as a badge of credibility, of being a ‘true’ author, to be traditionally published. It’s seen as a marker of quality.

So why did I decide to indie publish? Simple. I couldn’t stand the other option.

Being someone with anxiety, depression, mood swings and the occasional hallucination, I didn’t need extra stress. But that’s all I got when I tried to query. My stress shot through the roof as I began obsessively checking my email for that fated answer that would give me that badge. But oh! What if they make me sign a bad contract? What if they market me wrong?

There’s a lot for traditionally published authors to worry about. I know, I know someone who was traditionally published and was screwed over. Their books were badly marketed, they made no money, an they lost the rights to their series. An author’s nightmare.

Now here’s another thing. Suppose you do get into the process where you start actually talking to the editor (or whomever you talk to first in that company)? Well, I got to that stage with one company. It was a shitshow for my nerves. My mental health plummeted, I was so anxious, waiting on every sacrosanct phone call and misinterpreting everything they said. Because here’s the kicker -> people with mental illness and mental health problems are (quite often) not good or comfortable at interacting with other people. I certainly am not. That made what was arguably a very good situation go terribly bad. I quit the entire process and curled up into a ball and cried.

Because people with mental illness can’t stand the extra anxiety and anticipation of waiting for their manuscript to be reviewed. Then add having to navigate the personnel of the publishing company (who can be very brusque and impatient) and then worry about all the very real pitfalls of the contract and manage all the editorial changes that the publisher wants to bring to the novel.

It’s just not feasible to expect someone with a mental illness to go through all that. It’s detrimental to their health.

Furthermore, I’d like to throw in an element that is highly personal to me. Simply, the fact that I’m very attached to my novels in a particular way. They’re my babies, yes, but it goes beyond that. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I regularly base my novels on my dreams and hallucinations and mental health experiences. They’re so close to my heart and, perhaps in a hallucinatory way, I believe in them. To me, to deal with someone wanting to edit them is akin to editing the Bible. I believe in these stories. Some of them feel as if they are practically channeled to me. I believe that I have a duty to the spirits that are sending me these stories. To have someone come in and tell me how to ‘fix’ them and potentially wanting to change the fabric of the story could be an affront to the spirits, a breaking of my special contract with them.

Now, I’m not expecting anyone else to believe in this. I am merely stating it to make my final point. For someone in the throes of a mental illness, chances are that their stories will mean more to them than to a non-mentally ill person. In my case, I would probably have lots of nervous breakdowns trying to cope with an editing process that didn’t take my beliefs into account.

Really, honestly, I don’t think most publishing companies are prepared to deal with someone like me. I don’t think they understand mental illness or how to treat a mentally ill person in order to reduce their anxiety. Once you throw in potential delusions or paranoia into the mix, I think it’s just highly improbable that it’ll succeed.

For me, indie publishing is probably the only way I’ll ever be published. It certainly feels like it’s the only way that I can be published. It feels like the only option that is accessible and usable for me.

 

Depression Tips for Covid 19, Spiritually Speaking

 

Depression sucks. I’ve had bouts of it and gah. It literally felt like the world was grey and bleeding black around me. It was awful. My heart goes out to anyone experiencing depression right now due to the confinement situation, or from their work overload. So, today, while firing up my blog, I thought ‘hey, why not talk about tips for that?’.

I tend to focus on anxiety, because that’s what affects me the most, and I’m under the impression that it’s more common than depression. It’s also the general feeling I’ve been seeing people expressing online about this pandemic.

Yet, anxiety and depression tend to go together for me. Like, if I become very very anxious, depression can kick in. Yes, they can be separate, but as my mood swings are often anxiety based, so then can be my depression. My point is that they can be ‘co-morbid’, that they can go together as a package deal.

I sincerely hope that you, dearest reader, don’t suffer from chronic depression. If you do, I really suggest getting it checked out as soon as possible and get both medication and therapy as much as possible.

But what do you do if it’s ‘just’ the pandemic affecting you? If staying at home is just getting you ‘down’? Well, thankfully, that’s where our spirituality can kick in. We can use our spiritual practices to care for our inner wounds, and to boost us up.

That’s great and all, but how? How exactly can we use our spirituality to boost ourselves?  Well, I’ve compiled a list below. As usual, do what feels best for you and respect yourself and your limits. Also remember that there are hotlines that you can call if the depression gets too bad.

Ideas to combat Depression in the Pandemic:

  • Host a spirit party! You can’t have living people over, but what about the dead? What about the spirits? They certainly can’t give or catch ‘the virus’, so have them over!
    • you can make this a solemn affair as in Samhain, if that suits you, but I personally suggest making it more of a party. Throw confetti around, bake a cake, have some alcohol if you drink, and have all your guiding spirits over and eat with them! Read aloud some jokes, fairytales, and do some spirit communication however you feel (tarot, rune castings, trance work, etc).
    • Pro Tip: don’t forget to thank and ‘dismiss’ when you start feeling tired. As any party, don’t exhaust yourself energetically. Respect your limits!
    • Extra Pro Tip: use napkins or disposable plates to serve, to make as little mess/clean up as possible!
  • Do divination on a topic that’s not pandemic related. It could be on your garden’s future, your personal development, your psychic powers, what your talents are, and how grandma is doing on the other side. Just anything that’s not pandemic related. The point of this is to see/focus on all the life you still have, on all the projects that will continue beyond the reach of this pandemic.
  • Host a dumb supper/silent grieving period for those dying from the pandemic. The point behind this is to express our collective grief due to the pandemic. It’s normal to be upset by what’s happening, and (I think) it’s healthy to express it. This will not only give you a period within which to mourn, but it will also signal an ‘end’ to the mourning, at least for that day.
    • You can make this a daily ritual, depending on how much grief you feel. Say that every day you check the death tolls then find yourself crying. Then, instead of beating yourself up for being upset, make it part of a mourning ritual where you give yourself permission and space and a set amount of time to feel your grief. Then, when the time is over, try your best to move on and change your mind.
    • If you choose a dumb supper, you can lay out plates for the dead of specific regions, or do a specific region per day. Say, you grieve for Italy one day, Iran another, etc.
    • If you don’t have a lot of energy or want something simpler, you can simply burn a candle with the intention that it will guide the dead peacefully along their way to the otherworld.  an example of what one might say is, as lighting the candle “I light this candle, consecrating it to shine its light for those deceased of the COVID-19 pandemic. As this candle burns, a gate between the worlds is open, taking in all the wandering dead due to the pandemic and guiding them home by the light of this candle.”
    • You could also recite prayers for these dead, asking your presiding spirits/ whoever you feel like to take care of the spirits of the deceased due to the pandemic.
      • An example of such a prayer is “I pray to Anubis, Lord of the Dead. Please take those who have died of the plague in your arms. Be gentle with them. Ease their griefs and suffering and that of their loved ones. Weight their hearts gently and ease their passing into the other worlds.”
  • Pray to a solar deity to bring light into your life and banish depression. A prayer of this sort could go like: “I pray to Ra, Great God of the Sun. Please shine your light within my mind, within my heart and soul. Chase away the darkness of depression from my mind, heart and soul. Purify and invigorate me!”
    • Pro Tip: leave an offering to your preferred solar deity and engage in not only prayer, but also a deepening of your relationship with them. It can be as simple as putting up a sun picture, or baking them a cake and eating it with them. Just engage with them, and you will probably feel them in your life more!
  • Do exercise! Now, exercise is great for boosting the mind, but why not use that energy you’re creating to spread happiness in your home? A way to do this would be to visualize a rune such as Wunjo and imagine it radiating out from you as you exercise, spreading its energy out from you.
  • Cleanse and consecrate/charge your crystals to boost your mood. Simply laying them for a few hours in the sunlight, on a piece of paper on which you wrote ‘banish depression!’, can do the trick.
  • Obviously, you can burn invigorating incenses (like cinnamon!) or boil potpourri.
  • Ring bells to cleanse the air as well.
  • Do magical crafts! Ideas include:
    • Overhaul your altar!
    • Sew yourself a ritual robe, or embellish one you already have!
    • Practice a psychic skill.
    • Practice your basic ritual structure, such as circle casting, invoking, evoking, etc.
    • Write in your grimoire or BOS

Then, we have some basic pointers that are less spiritual

  • Let in sunlight
  • Call friends/relatives
  • Read books (especially books on spirituality!)
  • Paint/do crafts
  • Listen to uplifting music!

 

I hope this was helpful! Please take care of yourself and yours and have a great day! Lots of love to you all! ❤

lavender and massage oils
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Anxiety tips for COVID 19, Spiritually Speaking

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What with the sudden influx of people checking out my mental illness posts, I took a wild guess that people were reaching out for help. So, behold! I’ve decided to put together some self-help tips that try and take into consideration our limitations due to the pandemic. I mainly focused upon anxiety and worry, as it seems that’s what most people are dealing with in these trying times.

  • smudge/burn incense that is purifying and banishing of all negative energy. I am particularly prone to burning cinnamon (yes, the spice). Just pile it into a little pyramid (no bigger than an inch tall or wide, otherwise it might be too much heat for your holder), and light with a match.
  • Do a guided meditation (like this one) where you visualize yourself giving up all your worries to your favorite spirit.
    • Sit down comfortably. Close your eyes and relax. Or cry a little bit, that’s okay too. But whatever you do, relax and let your emotions come bubbling up to the surface. Feel them, hold them. Place your hands on your chest and try and, stretching your hands forward, visualize yourself taking these worries as tangible objects out of your chest and holding them out. Now, pray to a healing deity (my thoughts go to Bast or Sekhmet for this one). Ask them to take your worries away, to heal them and guide you through this pandemic safely.
      • The prayer can go something lie “I pray to you, O Great Sekhmet. Here are my worries, my inner plague. Please erase them from me, leaving me wiser and calmer. Let me, by your guiding grace, pass through this pandemic unharmed.”
    • After this, clap your hands and dust them off away from yourself. They are now empty and your worries are symbolically gone. Rest, focusing on feelings of rejuvenation and calmness.
  • Paint a Dagaz rune on your scarf/mask to help keep the virus out. You can use consecrated water to trace it invisibly as well.
  • Meditate on ice, Isa rune, to calm down and help you reach stillness. Visualize the rune in your chest, wherever you feel your worry the most. Breathe it in and feel it filling you, swelling and cooling down your worry. Exhale and feel it absorbing your worries and transforming them into cold calm.
  • Write down on a piece of paper a list of all things that are worrying you about this pandemic. Light a candle to Sekhmet or your favorite deity (simply say “I devote this candle to ___, to function as a channel of true speech between us” as you light it, or use your favorite invocation), and light the paper with the candle. Allow it to burn as you pray for her powers to destroy not only your worries but all harm that may come to you through this pandemic.
    • Prayer could go something like this. “O Great Sekhmet, here is a list of all that worries me, all that I fear. Please, with your burning powers, O Great Eye of Ra, destroy my worries and all harm that may come to me. Keep me and mine safe from this pandemic, this virus that engulfs the world.”
  • Offer up a prayer for all affected by the disease, such as This Brilliant One

 

I hope this was useful ❤  If you are suffering from something particular and want a prayer or ideas on how to cope with it spiritually, feel free to message me (I can send it to you privately) @ mdaoust245@gmail.com

flowers on opened book
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Step 8 ~ SMART Goal that sh*t

So now you’re at step 8. You’ve done your research, dedicated yourself to your path of healing. I.e., you know what to do and you’ve made a vow to actually do it. You’ve laid the groundwork, and now is the time for one final plotting step before action.

My advice is not to do a giant jump. Just take one small thing. My social worker always tells me to break it down into small steps, and start with the smallest step possible and work it up from there.

I suggest beginning on a new or full moon and re-evaluating ourselves on the full or new moon, as is done in Buddhist monasteries in a practice known as ‘sojong’ where they constantly evaluate their progress. This creates a two-week cycle of practice and reevaluation.

Here’s an example. You have a hard time showering, shaving, and getting out of bed at a certain time daily. Break it down. These are actually three different challenges, and you’re going to want to fixate upon them one at a time, from easiest to hardest. So say, showering daily will be easiest for you. You pick that one to tackle first. What’s the smallest step you can do towards showering daily? Maybe it’s just getting into the shower and sitting in the tub for a few minutes. Maybe your next step will be to undress and sit in the shower daily. Then you can add in water and getting yourself wet and drying off daily.

So you’ve picked out your first task. It’s the smallest you can possibly make it while still building up towards your goal. Now, I’m going to reveal another trick a social worker gave me. It’s actually obligatory when they set down goals with their people to make their goals ‘SMART’.

So here’s how it goes:

‘S’ stands for ‘specific’

‘M’ stands for ‘measurable’

‘A’ stands for ‘achievable’

‘R’ stands for ‘realistic’

‘T’ stands for ‘time’

Now, I’m sure if you search ‘smart goals’, you’ll get plenty of great descriptions on how to use these. My main thing is that the ‘SMART’ goals acronym helps you set up a goal that is doable and identified clearly so that you know if you’ve succeeded or failed.

Now let’s take the shower thing and set a ‘SMART’ goal with it.

S: You’re going to get into the shower every day. M: you will be sitting in the shower, fully clothed, for 5 or more minutes with no water running. A: for the sake of this example, I’m going to say that yes, I can achieve this (right now, I do actually do full showers, so this is just an example peoples. The point is to sit down and ask yourself if you can actually do this, physically and mentally. If the answer is no, try a smaller goal.) ‘R’: in my case, it’s realistic to be able to get into a shower and sit for 5+ minutes. But say, if you’re physically handicapped, it may not be realistic. T: We’re going to do this for two weeks, 5-7 times a week.

So that’s how you do a ‘SMART’ goal.  My further advice is: do it with someone who is a positive influence in your mental health life. Don’t do it with someone stressful, or someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge your problems. Pick someone realistic and helpful, if you have one available. Call a hotline and ask for a social worker to help talk you through it, at worse (in Canada, there’s the 811 line, option 2, that’s a social worker).

Here’s some more examples. You’ve decided to go at you mental health healing alone. You’re beginning by tackling your anxiety, and you’ve decided to work on your social anxiety. You’ve picked out a reiki practitioner as well as a natural remedy advisor, as well as a yoga class to attend.

You’re going to pick the smallest one: say, the yoga class to attend. So you set yourself a ‘SMART’ goal in regards to this yoga class, like this: ‘S’: attend X yoga class ‘M’: for an hour session ‘A’: yes, you can mentally do it. ‘R’ Yes, you can physically do it in regards to getting there and doing the basic poses. ‘T’: you will do this for two weeks, then reevaluate.

Here’s another example: You’ve decided to try a mixture of western medicine and ayurvedic practices. You’ve researched an ayurvedic healer, the info for your family doctor, as well as a dog park to play your dog at for stress relief. You break it down into the smallest step: it could be either to make a doctor appointment or try the dog park. Let’s say it’s the doctor appointment. So you set a ‘SMART’ goal like this:

‘S’: call to make an appointment with family doctor ‘M’ make an appointment for as quickly as possible ‘A’: yes, you can do it mentally. ‘R’: yes, you can do it realistically. You have no large phone phobias or difficulty physically making phone calls. ‘T’: you will do this within two weeks.

Now, where’s the pagan side in all of this? Of course, there are many ways to use your spirituality to bolster your ‘SMART’ goals. You can try and set spiritual goals to do in tandem with more ‘physical’ goals, even doing them together so that your spiritual practice makes it easier to perform your healing steps.

Ideas include:

  • Lighting purifying incense daily (when you’re there to supervise it burning) to cleanse and purify your home/energy. Perform in preparation for more agitating chores/mentally disruptive tasks.
  • Meditate/sit in contemplation daily, at a specific time. Depending on the sort of meditation you do, it can either calm you down from a difficult activity, raise energy before a difficult activity, or take a breather in the middle of a difficult activity.
  • Draw a divination card or rune each day, either at the beginning of the day to suggest contemplative observation of one’s day, or at the end of the day to help ‘summarize’ the day and bring closure and reflection.
  • Perform an offering ritual. This can be as simple as laying a cookie with intent out on a windowsill for the fairies.
  • Do some breathing exercises.
  • Do some energy moving exercises. I recommend doing grounding ones for beginning your path, so as to not raise agitated energy that you aren’t ready to work with yet. If you do raise energy, remember to always ground it once you are done.
  • Recite a prayer. It can be a long formal recitation with prayer beads, or it can simply be a moment to talk to a preferred deity.
  • Sit in nature.

 

Again, these are just ideas. Whatever you feel is right, pick it and do the smallest step possible.

I wish you all the best. In our next step, we will look at the ‘how’ of doing these goals.

Step 7 ~ Make a Dedication

Now is the time where you will dedicate yourself to your healing path. A dedication can be very simple or elaborate, depending upon your abilities and what you feel will work for you.

In the past, I’ve always found it tempting to do great and elaborate rituals, yet I never found those to be useful for me, magically speaking. As a mentally ill person, I never had the mental resources to do more than plan out a ritual. Even that, depending on my state, could be too much. So instead I ended up doing very simple things, such as tying a red string to my finger to remember to use my service dog and to rely upon her instead of trying to be independent.

The point of this dedication is to mark the beginning of your healing efforts -> to yourself. You’ll want it to have two parts. One will be a large piece that will ‘contain’ and ‘radiate’ all the energy and hope you’re putting into this. It will serve to remind you or why you’re doing this, how you’re doing it, and what methods you’re trying to use. Hopefully it will inspire you and encourage you to keep going when the going gets tough. I’m thinking something like a large collage in your home, or even a shelf that you decorate, complete with the deities that you will call upon for healing, etc.But it can be as simple as a picture of a beach or nature or a deity. Whatever works for you.

The second part will be a small piece that you will wear upon yourself or carry with you, to remind you of the commitment you’ve made. It could be a simple bead, a ring, or even a string tied (not too tightly) to your finger. The idea here is a reminder that will accompany you tangibly through your struggles. Again, choose something that will work for you. Maybe an image of a bird, free and flying without fear. Maybe a meditating figure, serene and calm.

So once you know what images or objects, crystals, herbs, etc, you want to use as your two dedication pieces, how do you go about making them? Here’s how I suggest going about it.

  1. Design your objects. Take a few days to think on it, sketch it out, and sleep on it. Make sure it’s something that’ll be meaningful, but don’t worry about it not being ‘meaningful enough’. You can always redo this ritual later if you feel it’s not meaningful enough.
    • Pro tip: on the larger of the two objects, plan a space for you to place markers of your successes. It can be a hand to place flowers in, empty space to glue up pictures, etc. Just remember that you will have victories and that you will want to commemorate them, which will help you on your path!
  2. Pick a time where you will not be disturbed and feel calm and collected
  3. Gather all your materials to your work space
  4. Cleanse your space however your tradition dictates. If you have no tradition, I suggest wafting around your favorite burning incense (air and fire) and then to sprinkle salt water around (earth and water). I suggest doing this in a circular motion around the space you will be using, as much as possible.
  5. Summon your higher self, deity, mother earth, grigori, etc. Ask them for their aid in performing this ritual. Don’t summon an entire pantheon! Summon just those who you feel called to or who you think are necessary.  If you are unsure of who to summon at all, use a summoning like this “I call upon those spirits or beings who guide and love me, who wish to aid me in my healing path, to be here now and to aid me’.
  6. If you feel up to it, cast a circle according to your traditions/beliefs. If you’re not up to it, don’t.
  7. Meditate upon what you are going to make, and ask the spirits/higher self how they think it should be done. If you get sudden urges or ideas that seem particularly nice, it could be them speaking.
    • If your inspiration seems overly ‘weird’ or ‘out there’ or bizarre, just don’t do it. In my experience, these were not divinely inspired, just the result of my weird brain doing its thing.
  8. Calmly, thank the spirits for their insight and guidance. Trust that they are with you, and begin making your objects without judgment. Remember that this is not a beauty contest. It’s all about the result having meaning and power for you.
  9. When you are done (or done for the moment), consecrate the objects. Hold them in your hands (or hold your hands above them) and dedicate them to your healing.
    • For both objects you can say something like “I dedicate this ___ (object one and two) to aid me in my healing, to remind me of my path in healing, and to channel inner guidance to me when I most need it. Please __ (deities or higher self) bless and consecrate it to guide and strengthen me on my path to healing.”
    • If your tradition has specific ways to ‘bring something to life’, you can use those methods. Options are the ‘laying in darkness’ used by the nordic paths to then ‘birth’ the named object into the light, simply naming it and willing it to be awake and ready, or blessign it with the four elements, or burying it out into the earth to then be ‘birthed’  when you dig it up.
  10. Thank you deities/higher self and dismiss/say goodbye in whatever formal terms you wish to use. My favorite is ‘stay if you will, go if you must’. If you can’t remember phrases to save your life, a simple thank you and ‘I’m going to clean up now’ works fine as well.
  11. Clean your work space. Take the time to put everything away and clean up as much as possible. Don’t consider this a ‘chore’, but see it as part of the ritual, an essential sacred thing. Take it as a chance to see yourself putting order into your world.
  12. Now that you have your objects ready to aid and guide you, place them in their dedicated space. You will want to begin immediately keeping the smaller one near you and the larger one in its space in your home.
  13. Rest, relax, and return to normal space and frame of mind. Rest, eat ‘cakes and ale’ (something nutritious and something hydrating), and return to your normal state of being.
  14. Once you feel grounded and well, acknowledge what you have done. Take stock of it, and realize that now you are embarking onto your path of healing, officially. From this moment on, you are walking that path. Congratulate yourself mindfully.
  15. Declare your intention to heal to those around you whom you trust. You can call it ‘putting it out there’ into the universe. Share with them whatever you feel comfortable sharing, be it just your intention to heal, to including how you want to do it and even which healers or doctors you wish to see. Just let them know that you’re trying to heal. It may encourage them to support you in the future, or at least explain what you’re trying to do.

Step 6 ~ Make a Budget

Now this is a step that depends upon your location and what treatment method you’ve chosen. Say, if you live in Canada (like me) and choose to take conventional medicine (like me), you won’t have to pay for most of your medication. However, a budget is still an important thing to have. Suppose you want to also try a natural remedy, such as St John’s Wort (remember to not mix it with medication unless your doctor approves). And suppose, while going to the store, you’re suggested this awesome therapy from a local reiki teacher, and you see a flyer for a funky new kind of yoga and and and… you see where I’m going? Not only do you have to pick and choose your treatment methods, but you also have to set a financial limit.

This can be VERY IMPORTANT if you’re trying alternative therapies. They can get expensive very, very, fast. You can also be desperate and end up trying everything all at once (not recommended either).

So before you pick out what treatment you want to start with, make yourself a functional budget.

Now, if you have trouble doing this, and you’re really not sure how much of what you should be spending where, call for help. Contact a friend, a social worker from the mental health clinic, or at the very least take a sample budget online and adjust it to your means.

But remember -> allocate a reasonable amount towards your mental health rehabilitation. You still need to eat. You still need to pay rent. You can only afford so much, and what you have is what you have. Be reasonable and honest with yourself.

Once you’ve made a budget, again, change your mind. Budgets are stressful, and you may not have a lot of money to spend on yourself. Try doing something free and fun to change your mind. Go to a local library, go for a walk, do some yoga, meditate or pray.

Step 5 ~ Gather Your Resources

Now that you’ve chosen your path of healing, you’re going to do some research. Consider it like a nature walk. Do you just up and randomly drive up to the side of a forest and begin slugging away at it, trying to walk through the thick and thin of it? Of course not (or at least I hope you don’t- it could be private property!). No. As a good pagan, you will first check our where you’re allowed to go and find some nice nature parks. Then you’ll maybe get a copy of a local flora and fauna book to better understand what you’ll be seeing. Then you get proper walking boots and socks and a hat and maybe pick out a crystal to guide you. All this to say -> you get prepared. Pagans are really big on intuition and ‘winging it’, but there’s nothing wrong or un-spiritual about planning. For those of us with mental illness, it can really help and make sure we don’t miss something obvious.

So, first things first. Get a hold of your trusty list of treatment options that you made last step. Grab a new sheet of paper and write them down in the order you want to do them, leaving plenty of space all around to write in your research. I suggest sticking the worst/most stressful thing in the middle, that way you end on a less stressful note.

Now, going down your list, research each option one at a time. Truth be told, this could take a few hours, even a few days. You want to be exhaustive.

But how do you do this? It’s easy to say ‘research’, but for me, that’s overwhelming. So let’s break it down.

Suppose you have are willing to see a doctor. Research on the local doctors. Do you have options with your insurance, or are you tied to a family doctor? If you already have a doctor, and you just have to make an appointment with them, then congrats, you’re done! If not, keep researching on which doctor you feel would best suit your needs.

Suppose you want to try only alternative medicines. Research which ones you want to take. Research what accredited people are near you, such as ayurvedic healers, naturopaths, etc. Write down their coordinates, availabilities, and approximate costs.

If you want to try group talks or similar therapies, research if there is any happening in your area, and consider calling a mental health clinic in order to know more about them.

Here’s a thing: don’t be afraid to call to get more information. If that’s too terrifying, get a friend to do it for you, or try emailing them. Whichever way, get as much pertinent information as you can.

A phone call, or email, could go like this:

“Hi, my name is ___ and I have ___ problems (such as anxiety or obsessions). I am currently researching on treatment options such as ___ (aromatherapy, reiki, etc) that you currently provide. I am wondering if you could tell me more about your services and how you could help me heal.”

One thing to consider, especially for alternative therapies and ‘spiritual’ practices such as reiki, is to ask them if they have any previous experience healing people with your condition. A simple way to phrase this is to say/write something along the lines of “I was wondering if you have any previous experience healing people with my condition, and if you could tell me how those experiences went.”

Again, you don’t need the nitty gritty details. But you do need to know whether they’ve dealt with anxiety/schizophrenia before, or whether they have no clue what to do with you.

Once you’re done with one point, move on to the next. In order for a point to be ‘done’, you should have gathered extra information specifically in regards to your condition (i.e., does the local health clinic offer schizophrenic talk meetings, does the reiki healer accept patients with your condition, etc) (except for a doctor, whose treatment plan will largely depend upon your meeting), gotten their contact method, and know where they are located. Once you’ve done this for your whole list, congratulations, you’re done for this step!

Again, take a breather. This may have been very stressful for you, and acknowledge that. It may also be confusing to have all this information. Acknowledge that as well. For now, don’t try and begin picking out who you want to see first or anything of the sort. Set it aside and forget about it until the next step.

I suggest you change your mind, cleanse your energy, and do a joyful spiritual practice. Offer thanks for the resources you’ve found!