I, like so many people, have been touched by the suicide death of Robin Williams, and it has sparked some soul searching and deeper thoughts in me, yet again, on the subject of mental health in our society. I rarely like to comment on current events, and I even more rarely like to jump on bandwagons of commenting on current events… and I fought the impulse to write this. But my guides told me that it was important to share this part of my story with you at this time… so, I am pulling back the curtains to the window on my soul a touch and am offering you a little bit about my own personal journey THROUGH “mental illness.” I hope it reaches whoever my guides intend it for… and I hope it gives them whatever they need from it.
(I’m going to be brutally honest here, so my apologies if it makes anyone feel uncomfortable. That isn’t my intent. My guidance is telling me it’s important to share the dark details because, as the title of the blog suggests, there is hope and redemption on the other side of this journey.)
A lot of people who know me today probably would be surprised to know that in my teens and 20’s and into my 30’s, I struggled with what was diagnosed by the psychiatric world as severe bi-polar disorder, depression and an anxiety disorder. I also carried the tag of PTSD, whatever that means to the psychiatrists and psychologists out there.
Whatever the labels, the condition was dire. I had all the signs and symptoms of bi-polar depression and mania, coupled with acute and severe anxiety. My highs were so high that I didn’t even have to sleep more than a couple of hours a day and I had energy to spare. I remember one time knowing that my living room just HAD to get painted, immediately. I happened to have some paint, so I got right to work. It was 2:00 am. The manias would last for a long time… days, weeks. I did dangerous things and scared many people around me, as they were concerned for my safety.
Then, I would plummet. I would become so depressed that I could barely move from my bed. I slept 16, 18, 20 hours a day. I would lay in my bed wishing for death. I was a “cutter” and I had agoraphobia to the point of not being able to even leave my house if I was by myself. I would get in my car to go somewhere and just cry because I couldn’t make myself start the engine. At one point in my life, I kept a “suicide kit” in the trunk of my car, thinking that there would come a moment when it would be so bad that I could actually bring myself to do it. I came close to using it on more than one occasion. Again, I scared the people around me because in those times I so deeply longed for death.
These cycles were horrible to live with. Horrible for me, and horrible for the people who loved me. It is a terrible thing to go through, from either side of the equation. And I promise you that if I had had a choice (or if I knew I had a choice) in the matter at that time, I would have done something different. I didn’t like living like that. Sometimes my heart still feels the heaviness of what I know I put people through during those years.
I was a spiritual person, and in my younger days I was very close to God and my spirit guides. Somewhere along the line, I shut them out, though. Maybe not entirely, but I just didn’t hear them very often in those years of battling “my illness.”
What I did hear, however, was the psychiatric and medical people telling me how “mentally ill” I was and how bad off I was and how the only thing that I could hope for was that the pills they could prescribe me could mitigate some of the symptoms of my sickness, but, they told me, I could never be cured. In fact, the first doctor that ever prescribed psychiatric medication for me, when I was about 19 or 20, told me that she was going to start me on something “relatively mild” because I would need more and heavier drugs as I got older.
That “mild” drug was, in actuality, a pretty heavy-duty anti-psychotic medication. So, imagine the message I received right there. I was being told I was broken way beyond repair and I would only get more broken as time passed. It’s no wonder that I kind of gave up at that point and allowed myself to get swept away into a decade or more of intense mental and emotional turmoil and despair.
Somewhere in my early 30s, I was under the “care” of a pretty well-intentioned psychiatrist. I actually had a lot of respect for this man, and truly felt like he cared and was trying to help me the best that he could. I don’t fault him, or really any of the folks from the medical establishment that treated me. They were mostly all kind and well-meaning people. They were just doing what they knew how to do. Anyway, this psychiatrist, at one point had me taking 7 (yes that is SEVEN) different psychiatric medications at once, and he even suggested electroconvulsive treatment. I guess I allowed myself to take these medications because I believed what I had been told… that I just needed the “right cocktail” of meds to feel better, and if that didn’t work, I might have to do something even more extreme. I was seriously considering the ECT. It seemed preferable to the alternative of continuing to live this life of pain.
The thing is, no matter what I did, I didn’t feel better. I only ever felt worse and worse. And worse. With no real end or hope in sight. But remember, I was told, over and over, that is what I should expect as I got older. So, I just sort of started letting go of any hope I had to be happy in this lifetime.
Along about this time, I met a friend. This friend didn’t have any particular background or experience with mental health issues, but he was the kind of person you might call a “thinker.” He was interested in people and how we think and what happens in our psyches. He didn’t profess to me that he had any answers or expertise. But what he did do was ask me a question. He asked “what if you could feel better than this?” That’s all. But that was the question that changed (and saved) my life.
At first, I got afraid when he asked me that. I thought maybe he was “one of those” people who wanted to tell me it was all in my head, or to tell me to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” or *gasp* who maybe even wanted to tell me how I didn’t need my medications.
I argued FOR “my illness” with this friend. (I was very attached to it, after all!) I told him that I had bi-polar. I told him it was a genetic disorder that was in my DNA. IN MY DNA. I couldn’t help it and I certainly couldn’t stop it. Just ask the doctors, dammit! They’ll tell you. This DISEASE isn’t my fault and there is nothing I can do to change it. The doctors told me I would ALWAYS be like this and I would ALWAYS need medication and I would never get better.
But my friend, my lovely, life-saving friend, just said, “ok.” He said, “all of that can be true. I’m not trying to take any of that away from you. But just… what if you could feel better than this?”
And I kept arguing for “my illness” (because if I could feel better, wouldn’t I choose to? If I could feel better wouldn’t the drugs be doing that?) and he kept asking the same question (and promising he wasn’t trying to take my medications or my “illness” away from me). Until finally, one day I paused. I paused and I allowed some new thoughts to come into my consciousness. I decided to suspend my beliefs, even if it was just for a moment, about “my illness” and the medications I had been told I’d always need and I decided to ask some questions back to my friend. I started with, “Well, how? What do you mean by ‘feel better than this’?”
I’ll make this part of this long story short. He didn’t even know, himself. He had read some things, and he had some ideas, and somewhere, deep inside him, he just KNEW, somehow, that there just HAD to be a way. And he wanted me to embark on a journey with him to see if, together, we could figure it out.
It was at that point that Spirit whispered in my ear… and I could finally hear again! The whisper told me to ask for Grace. So I did. And then, I answered my friend. I said, “yes.” Yes to embarking on a spiritual and emotional healing journey, with this friend who I trusted immensely. Not because he had all the answers… but because he didn’t. He just had questions. And by that time, so did I.
I’m not going to get into all of the fine details of our journey together. Not here, at least. But what I want to tell you, is that I found healing. Spiritual. Emotional. Physical. Healing. Not coping. Not symptom relief or management. Healing. True, to the bone, healing. We used many different paths to get there, from regression hypnosis to a multitude of other spiritual, emotional and physical healing modalities.
I’m not going to lie. The process was brutal at times, and at others, it was something close to sheer devastation. But in-between, and more and more as time progressed, there shined through some light, and some hope and some peace. I was able to start feeling PEACE, truly, and maybe for the first time in my whole life. And once I had a taste of that, man, I have to tell you, I just wanted more.
And I found more. And more. And still, more. I think there is an endless reservoir of peace and Grace that is available to all of us. My journey has shown me this. And while my life isn’t perfect, it is, truthfully, more often than not, blissfully peaceful and happy now. I now know how to tap into that reservoir when I need to. I really have found my hope and my redemption and I know to the depths of my soul that I never have to go back to those dark places anymore.
I didn’t give up my meds. Not at first. I never made the decision to just stop taking meds. As I started to feel better, I chose to slowly wean off of each one separately, see how I felt, and then go from there. *I have been off all medication for 8+ years. Yes. I feel strongly, based on empirical evidence (my life today!) that the doctors were wrong about me. I wasn’t a hopeless case, after all. I prayed for Grace, and Grace was extended to me. And the person I was then, the life I lived, that life of swimming in “my illness” is no longer my truth. It just isn’t. I am a different person today.
My truth today is, I was emotionally and spiritually damaged. I may well have had (and for all I know may still have) a medical condition called “bi-polar.” I really can’t tell you if that is true or not. But what I can tell you is that I was so spiritually and emotionally wounded that if it weren’t for the Grace extended to me by God and my angels, through my friend, and then subsequently through other spiritual and physical and metaphysical health practitioners, I probably wouldn’t even be here to write my story down. Because of that Grace, I truly was able to journey THROUGH “mental illness,” and I now live on the other side of it. I want you to know that no matter what your own journey is or where it takes you, that same Grace is available to you. Just for the asking.
I don’t know what Robin Williams’ story was or is. As I have connected into the energy of what is for me a very sad loss to the world, all I can say is that I feel there is a message in what transpired. A message for us, as individuals, and as a planet. I do not understand the fullness of the message, but I think a part of it is simply about paying attention and striving to truly “see” each other, and to offer a hand, wherever we can.
There is sort of trite message out there that circulates around the social media. The message is about how we should always be kind to one another because we don’t know the battles each of us are fighting, in our own minds, in our own private lives. Even though it has been distilled down so that it will fit on a graphic that we can pass around, I think the message is sort of profound, if it is expanded to the depth it actually contains. And I think, Robin Williams has shown us the truth of this message. No one but those closest to him probably really knew the magnitude of his personal battle.
So, I think – I hope – that we can take some meaning from this seemingly senseless moment in time. There is SO much pain in the world. And so many people fighting their own personal battles (as I was doing so long ago), that others know nothing about. Let’s reach out to each other and let’s always be kind where we can.
I don’t know where my journey will lead me in the future, and I don’t know where you are on yours. I can’t offer promises of healing, but I can extend a hand and an offer to walk part of your journey with you … simply through sharing my story of healing and my love for you and for the angels and the spirit realms. Or perhaps there is something more I can offer you in terms of a little piece of information for your puzzle or a little bit of spiritual healing help. If nothing else, I hope that if you are hurting, if you are ill, if you have struggles in your life, you can take one thing away from this story. I hope you will ask yourself that one simple, and yet, so profound question… “What if I could feel better than this?” And then see where the question leads you.