Monday, September 8, 2008

"The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion."---Albert Einstein

"A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use, to enjoy them, and to dominate them."
---Oscar Wilde

"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."
---Judy Garland

"Emotion turning back on itself, and not leading on to thought or action, is the element of madness."
---John Sterling

"The feeling is often the deeper truth, the opinion the more superficial one. "
---Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

"The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy."
---Jim Rohn

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion."
---Dale Carnegie

"In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. "
---Anthony Robbins

"Take control of your consistent emotions and begin to consciously and deliberately reshape your daily experience of life."
---Anthony Robbins

Learning my illness has been quite a trek. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 1992. It came as a complete shock! I had been having extreme levels of Clinical Depression throughout high school. ["On and off," I had been very down throughout adolescence as a whole.]

My mom took me to various doctors and a therapist [so did my dad and step-mom when I lived with them], but nothing was seen conclusively at that point. I suffered migraine cluster headaches from 17-18 years of age. But those eventually resolved themselves. During my junior year at University of Florida, I began placing myself in high-risk situations. Upset---feeling out of control---I called my uncle who was an Ob/Gyn. He hooked me up with the college psychiatrist.

My UF doctor misdiagnosed my disease. He prescribed an anti-depressant called Prozac. At the time, Prozac was deemed a miracle drug. However, the medical field now knows that manic-depressives should never be given anti-depressants (including Prozac) without a mood stabilizer. In my case, I cannot take any anti-depressants at all. My energy will spike and I will shoot straight through the glass ceiling into psychosis.

Prozac did just that to me in '92. Before I knew it I was "flying as high as a kite." I was thinking, thinking, thinking. I was not sleeping and I didn't need to to keep going. I felt uneasy and yet determined---hyperfocused. Then, suddenly, my mind was all over the place. I began experiencing rapid and pressured speech; increased activities; restlessness; and impaired judgment which included lack of insight, inappropriate humor, inappropriate behaviors, impulsive behaviors, financial extravagance, increased sexual behavior, and grandiose thinking. Furthermore, this caused excitability, irritability, hostility and feelings of exhiliration. And beyond the inflated self-esteem, I experienced hallucinations, delusions and/or paranoia at any given moment.

As my perceptions shifted into over-drive, my religious ideations increased. My soul felt torn between heaven and hell. I was in and out of a mystified state of mind---up one second, down another. My creativity was at an all time high. The people I was hospitalized with became [in my mind] "characters" from childhood (Tabitha of Bewitched, Blue Beard, etc.). I played games like I was three years old.

Nothing was working right.

I was hospitalized twice that year. The first time for mania. The second time for depression. And I was dowsed with medications. Moreover, I had to come to terms with the fact that I would never be able to carry children safely. I would most likely, also, produce a child with my same disease. It was a lot for a 21 year old to absorb.

My body, of course, had to adjust to all the new chemicals I was ingesting daily, and that was especially tough. I had just learned that I was attractive to the male species, and just when things were pretty good in that quadrant, everything went "POOF!" I went up three dress sizes. I had demolished skin. And my hands tremored intensely. People said things to me which were terribly hurtful. I felt so self-conscious, and so tainted. I was lifted from my regular existence into an existence of circumspection and doubt.

For a time, my mind was obliterated. I couldn't operate on a cognitive level. I just was...and there was nothing more than that. I could think on some level because I could communicate [I am not sure how well]. But I was "in space" quite often.

The drugs then were horrid. Psychotropic drugs are much, much better today! For example, if I were hospitalized for a manic break, I would be able to ground fairly quickly without an army of side effects. And I would not experience the horrors of the old meds like horrendous stabbing pain and temporary blindness. To me, those experiences go well beyond side effects! They are deathly---unlivable!

For six years following my first manic episode, I lived in an existence that was quite hypomanic. I didn't see that or feel that; but, looking back, I definitely was on the high side of my disease. Nevertheless, it was a functioning level; and in some ways it was a spectacular period. I rose to a "calling" that took me abroad to Hong Kong as a Christian missionary and art/Bible teacher. [And maybe I had to have high emotions to create that experience.]

I have never been more thrilled than when I lived and taught overseas. I had an apartment that I shared with a roommate, I had a decent salary to play around with, I had many activities available to me, and I had students and a principal that were fabulous. The land was truly mystical as well!

But I had my second manic break in 1997. I wound up in an all Chinese hospital and I was fortunate to make it home to the United States.

But it was upon that return that I really began to understand Bipolar Disorder. I was penniless (or nearly so) so I went to the community mental health facility. I had one therapist that I immediately felt disjointed from. I ended up with another therapist who helped me to make sense of all the confusion I felt. She connected the dots of my illness and my life. I will forever be grateful to her. I can't remember her name or face either. I just remember the experience of going to her for therapy. I, also, had a psychiatrist that was quite lovely. He was a sensitive man who lost his spouse in a car accident some years earlier. He was a photographer as well so I felt some kindredness toward him.

1997-1999 were to be very difficult years to bear. I was shifted off of lithium onto Depakote (valporic acid) while I was hospitalized overseas. I remained on Depakote for nearly a year following my return. Sometime during that period, I realized the medication was not "holding" me. I was up and down a lot! Eventually, I made the decision to transfer back over to lithium. By that time I had moved back to Virginia to live with my aunt again.

The process of transferring medications was horrible. I looked like I had severe Parkinsons' Disorder. My arms and hands were shaking. But, I made it through and I went to work for Barnes and Noble. [I was supposed to be there for less than 6 months. I stayed there for 3.5 years.]

Things stabilized for a short period and then I tanked big time. The shift work was too much for my body. I could not balance my Circadian Rhythms. I began rapid cycling. Honestly, I am not sure how many times I was in and out of the hospital during that period. Many.

My ex-boyfriend, Chris, helped me through much of the worst period of my life; and then, he destabilized and began to create even more problems for me and my health. I don't blame him for that. He was truly a trooper the 3.5 years we were together. If he hadn't been in my life during that phase I believe I would not have lived. Things were that rocky and painful. He was my love and I was his; and we made it together for as long as we could. If I regret anything, it is that we didn't have the grace extended to us to survive within the bigger picture.

In 2004, I broke it off with Chris after my last tumultous hospitalization. And I began to get better. I was committed to really trying to live. I hadn't been that way since 1997. It was my time to learn to love myself. Before Chris and I ceased as a relationship, he gave me tools I never would have known about before him. I educated myself about the Chakra system, the realm of the psyche, and belief systems like Shamanism. All these tools helped me.

I had always been a student---first of grade school, junior high and high school, then of University of Florida, then life, and, finally, some advanced education regarding information studies. I was a good student (after Chris was gone from the scene) of everything Chris taught me while we were together. Step by step I began exploring the New Age studies, and Eastern and Pagan philosophies to gain a higher understanding of life.

It is here that I realized that my disease was quite a subjective experience. I owned the fact that my diagnosis was just a label to help the physicians understand how to treat my illness. I connected with the fact that my emotions were on a continuum. They would always be higher and lower than most people. I began to understand that if I slapped medication on every strong emotion I would be sick constantly. The meds only help to manage the illness. They do not perfectly contain the disease. [When I lived in Hong Kong, I thought if I took the meds I was cured. That was/is not the case.]

And suddenly I was so much more even. I stopped going in and out of the hospital. I started to have a more holistic sense regarding my health.

I was not going up and down and all around. I was beginning to predict my episodic swings and "cut the off at the pass." I was beginning to surf the waves of emotional pulls. I got so that my raging moments were softened...subdued. I learned how to effectively medicate the moments my body began to lose all sense of control. I had some peace for the first time in years. My heart was growing stronger and stronger.

And last but not least, I found love inside of me. I found my Way.

Currently, I explore many different alternative and/or holistic forms of healing. I have a few really gifted friends who have cultivated some wonderful skills that have been life changing for me. I am so grateful for Deb and Brenda S., who do BodyTalk, and Marcus who does craniosacral work. My body-mind is happier than it has been since 1992. I am not yet cured of my disease; but I am gaining so much insight into the body-mind-soul-spirit. Each insight lessens my burdens. I am healing one breath at a time. And I like it!

My disease affects the outpouring of many symptoms. But the symptoms are not my disease. My disease is genetic in origin. It exacerbates my thoughts and my emotions.

As a whole person I know that life is more involved than emotions. Life is filled with light and darkness. Life is physical and non-physical. Life is birth and death. Life is soul and spirit. Life is up and down. Life is balance/order. Disease is imbalance/disorder.

My emotions are an extension of my heart. If my body-mind is out of balance, the parts of the body will be askew. Holistic principles define life in terms of wholeness and order and balance. Each of us is a whole being. Energy is not destroyed, merely moved, blocked, or something other.

My emotional body has gained tremendous healing through the use of various energy-oriented modalities. I cannot articulate all that I have experienced. I will, undoubtedly, leave out a sentence or two; but our energy body is place of great healing potential. The work that my friends have done on me has blessed me immensely.

I am much calmer. I feel things flowing in me and through me with so much more ease. All these outcomes are miraculous to me!

If someone has a disease or injury you don't understand, please talk to the individuals. See how they feel, see what they are going through, see what you can do to help them experience their situation with more ease. Love is the strongest force in the universe. Take the opportunity to be the love that you ARE. Take the opportunity to share yourself with the person hurting from imbalance, injury and/or disease. Your love is important to EVERY person you know. Expand it. Expand you. Love IS!!!

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