Using a Tough Convo to Empower

I’m a pretty big believer in transparency with my kids. If nothing else, my alphabet soup of diagnoses forces me to be honest about my shortcomings. I can’t exactly smile and be “perfect” when depression or panic attacks are fighting my ability to be a human being let alone a mom.

My kids, like any kids, have these things called ears and eyes. They see all of the goings on, even if I don’t watch the news myself. I realized I needed to talk to them about the shootings. I am not one to brush things under the carpet with a smile and everything is just fine.

My oldest told me he’s scared someone’s gonna come in and shoot him. I overheard the boys discussing what they’d do if someone came into their school and started shooting. Like a normal mom, I immediately felt a rage in me that could make a nuclear bomb seem benign. How the fuck can it be possible that my 11 and 6 year old are discussing getting fucking shot in school? How is this a reality?

I looked my son in the eyes and I gave him the only answer I have. “Ty, the truth is at any moment we can die. There are people who are angry, miserable, and full of hatred and sadness. It’s so bad, they think hurting others is the answer. The only thing we can do for people like that is love them anyway. I refuse to waste my life being scared of mean people or even being scared of dying. I know it will happen one day, and my only wish is I live my life so well – so awesomely – that when I die, I have a smile on my face and all the ones I love know how much and deeply I love them. I feel like the only way I can do that is try to be as kind and loving as I can to anyone in my life and maybe there will be less unhappy people in the world. But I won’t let people take away my happiness. Not by making me scared about dying or anything. I won’t give someone else that power. And I hope you don’t either. I hope you live your life finding everything that makes you smile – to the point you can smile and find happiness even when everything is hard. Because you are strong. You’re awesome. And no one can take that away from you.”

I don’t know if that’s the right answer, but unfortunately there’s no “how to talk to your children about people being massacred in school” section in the non-existent parenting novel. I can’t get rid of the monsters, but I’ll do my best not to raise new ones.

New Beginnings start with ? Not .

I try to stay away from explaining things in terms of the ego must be overcome or it must die. This sets anyone up for confusion inherently.

I question the ego:

Who are you? Don’t use your name – someone gave you that. Don’t use your job, people, stuff – all externals. Who are you that sits behind your eyes?

All of the things you would use to attempt to describe yourself you learned from someone else or someone else told you and you believed. These are not you though. That is your ego.

What are you?

Your ego is the vehicle you move throughout life in. To see this, you must become aware that you are not the I you say you are. You’re not these externals, yet you use your externals to move throughout life. When you become aware of your ego, you can then see that this is a vehicle. You use a vehicle to get to the mall, but not to take a shit.

Alone, you cannot overcome the ego. In the simplest terms, your ego is the thinking mind. Your conscious attention. Who thinks your thoughts? You cannot answer this, yet you are familiar with the fact that thoughts come and go as the please. Through meditation, you can see the observer and observed. And you see you don’t have to think your thoughts. Much like you don’t have to be your ego.

When you see through the veil of ego, you cannot answer “who am I?”

It’s the death of the separateness in I. And Then you find, “I am”

At the end of the day, ego wants you to believe you’re separate. Non ego shows were all one.

“No one’s gonna take my soul away…I’m living like Jim Morrison..” Gods and Monsters, Lana Del Rey

The Nightmare Before Christmas

One of the musings I wanted to do with this blog is my bizarre takes on music and movies/entertainment. I do not believe any fiction is pure fiction; everything is a metaphor. The beauty of fiction is you can interpret the metaphor however you’d like. Our beautiful lies – one meaning – is the definition of a metaphor. Is that not what fiction is? Today, especially since we are a week from Christmas, I thought I’d write on one of my favorite movies and some of the metaphors I’ve found for myself.

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Why? I’m an overgrown child, I love Tim Burton and Jack Skellington. I have probably watched this movie 300 times now. As a matter of fact, as I’m (barely) preparing for Christmas, it’s the only Christmas movie I’ve watched.

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Look at it as Jack trying to understand his role in life. Here he is the Halloween King, but he feels unfulfilled. He feels as though he does the same damn thing every day. Then, he finds this new, happy world. He feels a new feeling he has never felt before, and he feels “Just like his old boney self again” (I want everyone to know, full disclosure, any quotation will be from direct memory because I am that much of a dork) As he tries to understand Christmas more, he studies it, he “knows the stories, and he knows the rhymes…he knows the Christmas carols all by heart…his skull is so full it’s tearing him apart..!”

I don’t care that he’s a clay puppet, I have never resonated with a character more in my life. Jack and Sally have always felt like me talking to myself. Ultimately, Jack tries to be what he is not – Sandy Claws – and blows shit up. That’s been my life. Even studying as much as I have – I have read spiritual books, blogs, etc. yet nothing made sense. “What is this?” indeed. I have listened to probably every Alan Watts seminar, and from there I have ventured into philosophy as a whole. Reading psychology books to understand the alphabet soup of my diagnoses help me see, I suppose, I’m not alone, but I still felt as though I did not belong. I look around and I see a Halloween-town world, and me wishing I could just…get…it.

I’ve had so many moments where my world is metaphorically in flames, and I’m sitting there with my head in my hands wondering what I’ve done. Again. How in the hell is it so hard to be happy? You watch Jack trying to explain Christmas to the Halloweentown people, and they make Christmas into their Halloween version. They’re all happy just following his lead, but he knows he’s not even happy.

Jack Skellington helped me understand the great Tao.

How did Jack become happy? He stopped trying to be Santa Claus, he stopped studying Christmas, he stopped trying to Christmas, and he realized, he IS the Pumpkin King. He realized he wasn’t happy because he was too busy focusing on being miserable, saying he did not have this, did not have that, and seeing his life as a neverending chore. The harder he fought to understand “that special kind of feeling in Christmas-town” the less he understood. This is exactly how Taoism is explained. This is actually how almost any religion is explained. You cannot actually intellectually understand things like faith, belief, or God. I mean, honestly, how do you even understand Santa Claus?

“Just because I cannot see it doesn’t mean I can’t believe it!”

We use Santa as a metaphor to explain kindness, generosity, and really – magic. (Then we basically tell our children we lied, and let them lose faith in magic, but that’s another post…) These are words, though. Symbols. Representations. In truth, words are metaphors of knowledge and information. Much of our lives exist outside the realm of tangible concepts. I can show you 1+1 = 2 and I can explain it in words. Kindness and love, however, are best put in metaphors, stories, and even best: example. I can wrap my arms around you in a hug, and that’s all you need.

Jack realized after he ruined Christmas (experiential learning – not studying), he’s not Santa Claus, he had to be himself. He gained a new appreciation for who he was, and a new perspective on his life. The metaphor of the great Tao is water, as God, Tao, etc. none of these can be put in words. Jack realized he can’t study Christmas, he just has to be that feeling. Isn’t that what everything teaches you? You can’t study happiness, you have to choose happiness. You can study methods of happiness or practices that support happiness, much like you can smash a bat and turn it into a hat. You can create all the accoutrements of Christmas, but it will not be Christmas unless you are it.

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After all the studying I’ve done, re-watching my favorite movie as a kid made me figure it out. Irony! Yet that is how it all works. You cannot think your way out of a problem, we just think we can. The more you think, the harder it is, to be perfectly honest. This is why meditation, contemplation, and other practices are important. What is most important, however, is being true to yourself. Don’t act like Buddha, or act like Santa Claus. It’s far more important to find what sets you on fire and do that. If it’s overanalyzing children’s movies to understand the Tao, hey man, whatever works.

Inspiration alights in a child’s wondrous eyes.

Then, you have the iconic image of Jack and Sally falling in love on the hill in front of the moon. Once Jack gets his head out of his ass and sees the woman who loves him right in front of his eyes, that he has been surrounded by everything all along, life is pretty cool, right? Nothing actually changed, did it? Jack changed his attitude, everyone else stayed the same.

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The first two tattoos I got were Jack and Sally on my wrists.  I got my first tattoos about a month after I started writing as a Memento-esque tribute to myself. They were a mile marker of me realizing my bullshit, writing about my bullshit, and in many ways, killing off my own Oogie Boogie (my bugs! my bugs!) if you will. I chose the placements specifically because, on my left wrist, I used to cut myself. When I was feeling particularly crappy, I liked to stare at my scars and ruminate. Time has marched on, and those scars are all but invisible to anyone but me and my memory. Now, I have Jack’s smiling face and “Smile Now” looking at me on my wrist. On my right wrist, I have Sally looking sad, saying “Cry Later”.  That’s my harmony. There’s no time for ruminating on my old scars, but it’s okay to be sad. It was the first metaphor I created from my favorite movie.

This is why metaphors are important, to me. Every time I revisit a story I love, I find new inspiration. When I was a little girl, I fell in love with the story. As I’ve grown older, I use stories to help me become my own story. The greatest mistake anyone can make, in my mind, is handing the pen of your life to someone else. That includes spiritually too, for words are a copy of reality – a metaphor. They transfer knowledge, they are not the knowledge. Inspiration and interpretation are your gifts alone, as only you possess your mind. Mine, apparently, finds the Tao in Halloween town.

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…and I just can’t wait until next Halloween, cause I’ve got some new ideas that will really make them scream!

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts – any other metaphors? Any movies that have really inspired you throughout your whole life? I appreciate your likes, comments, and shares so much! This was an absolute blast to put together, although I was questioning my sanity pretty good. hahahaha 🙂

Genuine Fake

Who are you? Who am I?

Your name was given to you by someone else. Your gender, your birthplace, and your race were all given to you. Your job is transient at best.

Inevitably, when anyone starts sitting in silence with their eyes closed in meditation, Who Am I? is a question that will arise. If I’m honest, though, it has always been a question for me. It’s one of the questions that made me wonder if I was crazy. Paradoxically, in philosophy and psychology, it’s the very question that keeps you sane.

I am a mother of 3 amazing and frustrating kids, I was working full time, I have a handful of friends, [insert standardized blurbs here]. To each category, I had a different set of filters and personality. People always tell me how much they love how real and genuine I am. At the same time, in the corridors of my mind, the real me peers out while bound and gagged. Has anyone else felt this way? I’ve changed a lot in the last year, but looking back, I only revealed a meager portion of my truth. How I actually felt in situations, or what I actually wanted. I think how many times I would say OK! to things I did not want to do? Or say, “I’m fine.” when the actual emotion would be more accurately described as “Die in a fire so hot Satan will feel sad.”

Carl Jung has called what we repress, what we do not like about ourselves, etc. to be our shadow self.  It’s also been called your demons, dark side, and so on. The Buddha calls it suffering. Most religions call it sin. It might feel like a stretch to bring sin in this, but to me, it’s all different words for the same concept. I think most of our lives our mistaken concepts – another definition of a lie. A lack of understanding of the words, because we use the words too much.

Part of the problem, I think, is a lack of time for everyone. We’re all constantly reading – texts, blogs, social media, etc. so words are commonplace now. We don’t linger on words for context and alternative meanings, and abbreviations are becoming more common. This is creating a lot of challenges in communication. If I write over 600 words, the likelihood of this blog being read drops considerably. Over 2,000, it’s almost certain. Yet, how can someone explain psychology, philosophy, or any other detailed topic in short sequences? I don’t know, but it sounds like a fantastic challenge, and that’s why I am starting this blog. If people don’t read it, that doesn’t matter, because I’m explaining it to myself, and I need to understand it, because this is how I’m helping myself. The self I am still getting to know.

Who Am I?

My world shifted when I heard Alan Watts explain in a seminar that a persona, the root in Latin, referenced the mask the actors wore on stage. Jung used persona to explain the mask you wear in society/interactions with others. Therefore, my filters and all were completely normal – expected, standard, what everyone else does. The strain of this, however, made me behave crazily – aggressive, angry, confused, panicking, and depressed. I had so many personalities – same root – actor’s mask. Our personalities, all things to do with our person-hood, anything you can associate with your person, will all come to the root of the mask.

When people tell me I am a genuine person, they tell me I am being a genuine fake. Watt’s made me realize that, and I started laughing hysterically. That’s exactly how I’ve always felt. I wanted to be a diamond, but I was rocking a cubic zirconia. (Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond just randomly came on YouTube as I typed this…)

If anything, most of my personalities contained a possessive. I identified purely in externals. ___’s Mom, ___’s analyst, ____’s wife, ____’s friend. I wasn’t my anything. I could not say writer, philosopher, Buddhist, anything, really. I don’t even know that those are genuine answers, but at least they don’t contain forms of grammar in them?

Behind my smile, busy work week, constant cleaning, activities for my family, well-cooked meals, etc. was an unending narration of every shortcoming, every misspoken word, every misstep, every un-asked question, every fear, and everything I have ever wanted to do but never did. It was varying streams of consciousness that eventually would become roaring tsunamis of psychosis almost a year ago. The human mind can only be pushed so far.

The nice thing about psychosis (I’ll add that to the list of my eventual book, “Things I thought I’d never say”) is it definitively gave me the answer to “what is crazy?”I know what it is like to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I said to a friend the other day, “It gets really easy to stay humble and have no shame in my game when I know I ran into my house screaming I’ve killed us all!” is that fucked up to say? Yeah, probably. What else can I do? Cry about it? It happened almost a year ago. I didn’t die. I’d rather get to the point where I can laugh about terrible things in my life.

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I think I’ve naturally tried to do what Jung has said to do all along. Embrace your shadows. Love your demons. Forgive your sins. Say yes to that dress.

Isn’t it weird how much easier it is to do the externals, yet realistically, you are all you have, and you are probably the meanest to yourself? When I started meditating, I started noticing and hearing my thoughts. I was a real dickhead. When I realized how genuine my mask was, how much more I liked the outside me… I decided I needed to fix that. I wanted to be authentic. To do that, I had to start liking myself at least. All of me. Not just the one I painted on for the stage.

When I began to see everything associated with the very idea of me was fake, I began to lose all the fear I had about opinions, or whatever it was. I’m not really sure what put the notion in my mind that I had to wear so many masks. In truth, it stopped being about people anyway, I just want to know who I am.

I am okay being an onion like Shrek said. As long as I understand my layers, as long as I love and accept my layers. I don’t care if anyone else thinks I stink.  I don’t want to be a mask, an actor on a stage.

Yet…isn’t it also fascinating that another definition for person is: the modes of being God in the Trinity? You are either an actor on stage or you are God? Not much wiggle room there!

((Just over 1200 words, curious to see how this does, it’s optimal word count. If you enjoyed, kindly reblog & share on your social media, and I will return the favor in kind if I enjoy your work! I am on Facebook & Twitter as well, just getting started everywhere))

Earlier Posts:

Who are you? Who am I? 

Raise or Raze?

When I became a mom, like most moms, I thought my job was to raise my kids. I became obsessed with being a great Mom. In truth, I became obsessed with making sure everyone saw me as a great mom – including my kids and my husband. Internally, I saw myself as a fuck up, failure, and fraud. I attempted to be a perfect mom, to hide my Imposter Syndrome.

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In raising my children, I razed myself.

raze
rāz/ verb
1. completely destroy
There are many relationships that can be described in those 7 words. The problem is, the wrong raise is used in the second half of the sentence. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is we can make another person happy. Our spouse, children, random person on the street, and so forth. We cannot make anyone but ourselves happy. As a parent, you care for and provide for your children, but we cannot make them happy any more than we can make them breathe.
I have proved this to myself every Christmas morning, or even every time I’ve devoted any amount of time cooking. For one, if I place an expectation, I’ve immediately placed a disappointment. No reality will ever align with what I’ve created in my mind. Since it doesn’t match, I will be disappointed as opposed to surprised. For another, my child (spouse, etc.) will choose what they do with my gift/meal/expression/words.
Happiness is a choice we each make for ourselves.
As every mom knows, your child’s likelihood of eating is inversely proportional to the amount of time you spent cooking. Chicken nuggets are the nectar of the gods versus your home cooked roasted chicken is “This again?”
That understanding did not exist years ago. The world itself rested on my shoulder. I had to make everyone happy (except myself, of course). I looked to everyone else to make me happy. No one was making me happy. There were happy moments and happy times, but it felt fleeting. I realize now they were moods and moments.
True happiness is a state of being.
It is a perspective and a constant choice.
In my desperate attempts to make everyone else happy, I ran myself ragged. I worked 50-80 hour weeks because I wanted to make enough money to buy a bigger house. When I wasn’t working, I was assuaging my working mom guilt by doing fun and exciting activities for the kids since I barely saw them. I don’t want to go into the play by play, but at the height (or bottom, I suppose), I was going to the gym for 1-2 hours, while actively bingeing and purging almost everything I ate. After my marriage disintegrated, when the kids were with their dad, much of the same commenced, except I’d add liquor/beer/sex to the fire. I was on a mission to destroy myself.
Then, one fateful day, I vomited at a bar when I was out to dinner with a friend. My hair had been falling out for a few weeks, but I was blaming it on everything but the truth. I saw blood in my vomit. I realized I was actively killing myself. For all the suicidality/intrusive thoughts/etc. that come with depression and the alphabet soup of my mind, there it was: I was killing myself. I couldn’t deny it any longer. The clock was ticking. I was going to leave my children motherless if I did not get my act together. Or, really, if I did not drop the act.
I was a fraud. I wasn’t happy. I was miserable. Not even my kids could make me happy. If anything, I was parenting them in fear of them becoming me. Talk about do as I say, not as I do. “Children, you can be and do anything you like, just for the love of god, don’t be me!” is what I would say without saying. Children learn by example, not words. Children are wise sponges. The day after I saw blood in my vomit, I offhandedly told my daughter we were going to grab food because I was hungry, and I saw relief on her face. Imposter Syndrome, indeed.
I projected my need and desire for happiness onto everyone because projection is what everyone does. All parents project their un-reconciled crap onto their kids. We can either raise or raze our kids, as well. If you are not a parent, don’t space out, because you can think of your inner child. You do not even have to have trauma: you could have the best childhood in history. We all have unreconciled crap projected on us. Life is the sum of happiness and trauma when you think about it. One second, you are happily chilling in the amniotic sac in your mother’s womb. The next, you are cold, screaming, and getting smacked by a doctor. Our minds conduct janitorial services and clean away memories of trauma, we forget, we repress, and we project.
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Our parents had things they wanted to do and be, they had fears, etc. and all of that was projected on us as kids. You can see that nowadays in helicopter parents. Those parents are so afraid for their children, they don’t let their children be children. Inside all of us as adults, our inner children wait to be parented. My life as an imposter was really an inner child throwing one raging tantrum of repressed emotion, fear, and pain.
As children, we were much wiser in many ways then we are as adults. The world makes us forget simplicity. A kid is happy playing with a box, as many frustrated parents can laugh at the discarded flashy toy off to the side. A kid greets each day as a new adventure, forgetful of yesterday and tomorrow. A kid eagerly learns and takes in the world with curiosity and minimal fear. Adults teach the kids the fears and anxiety by example and projection.
None of this is typically intentional. If anything, most parents have the best of intentions! The exceptions would be childhood abuse, paedophilia, and horrible things like this which create traumas that no child should endure which create adults with pain that is indescribable. If the adult child has children, they tend to repeat the cycles of abuse, and this is a viciously complex issue. At the same time, in these cases, as with any psychological condition: you are often taught to re-parent your inner child. Other terms: Core wounds and core beliefs, Mother/Father Wound, Fixation…You begin to see patterns in relationship types: co-dependency, enabling, narcissistic, toxic, and so forth.
Unhappiness is the result of happiness sought outside of self.
Parents can have co-dependent and toxic relationships with their children. I have seen many mothers who have lost their identity to their children. They are only ___’s mom now. They have no interests outside their children. Their happiness is dependent on their child’s happiness and they believe they are the purveyors of that happiness. Unfortunately, when their children begin developing their own identity and independence, these possessed nouns are lost, because who are they? What do they do with their time?
As a possessed noun, I could not contend with my guilt over my co-dependent, toxic marriage ending, my guilt in turning my kids into “statistical broken home kids” and feeling like a complete and utter failure. Naturally, I drank away my sorrows and did everything I could to escape them. Then I saw I was dying, and I realized I better start living. I started writing, I started learning who I was. I started doing the things I loved doing when I was a kid – writing, collecting crystals, meditating, reading, listening to music, etc. I began finding a life outside of my children, and I saw the reality that my children were perfectly happy whether or not I was around. The sun still rose and set without me. It was magical.
I am all that I am. There is no more imposter because I look in the mirror and I love the woman who stares back at me. I peer out in this world no longer afraid of exposition.  Fortunately, I razed myself and destroyed a life that was destroying me.
Occam’s razor (Razor, same root as Raze) keeps all of this rather tidy: the simplest solution is usually best. Why spend all this time hiding lies, when you can be authentic? Why spend all this time trying to make everyone else happy, when I can choose happiness? I can smile my real smile, and let my example teach my children. They can choose for themselves from there; same for anyone else who crosses my path.
Which raise do you use with yourself and others?
Thank you for reading, sharing, comments, likes, and follows!!! I’m having so much fun putting these concepts together, and I generally hope this is thought provoking 🙂 I’m on Facebook & Twitter – Social Media Links on my page…Still getting everything set up!!

Coping Skills vs. Life Skills

Just Me is one of my first blog friends, and I am very grateful for her friendship and kindness. Specific to this post, I was mulling over what I wanted to write. I had thought about beginning my journey on this blog talking about mental health and coping skills to start. I am a believer in synchronicity, so when JM put in her comment about lies being a “coping skill”, well, I see we have a post, don’t we?

I have been hospitalized 5 times for a variety of mental illnesses. My diagnoses change pretty frequently, as do my medications, so let’s not be bored with specifics, shall we? My symptoms are more relatable:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings/Mood Instability/Mood Lability
  • Poor Focus
  • Suicidality
  • Self Harm
  • Eating Disorders
  • Addiction
  • …And more!

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Most of my life was spent in complete and utter terror that I was crazy. How does one know that they are crazy, though? People say, “Crazy people do not know they are crazy, so if you are scared of being crazy, you are not crazy.” Fair point.

What does crazy even mean?

We all use such big words to hide reality. Currently, we say Mental Health and Mental Illness. It used to be Sane versus Insane. Normal versus Crazy.

Mental Health and Mental Illness are both euphemisms, though. They imply the versus as before, but they make it sound nicer. The presence of a diagnosis does not imply sickness. This, to me, is the crux of the mental health stigma, YET it is re-affirmed consistently through bad language and euphemisms. Part of the reason why I started this blog and named it as I did is to focus on the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell each other. The way we all handle “Mental Health” is an incredibly big one.

“I have depression” versus “I have a mental illness” versus “I have a mental health issue” versus “I am crazy” all make huge differences in self-talk and interactions with others. In all of my hospitalizations, throughout therapy, etc. I was taught tons of coping skills. The messaging I was not given, however, is I am being taught how to live a healthy life. I was being taught to be dependent, disempowered, and feel broken. I was told over and over that I am mentally ill. I will freely admit, I have had no end of bad doctors, etc., but I do not believe I am alone in my experiences.

Coping Skills, Mental illness: the language alone is dis-empowering. Inherently, we keep being given “less than” status.

Where does the ill part of my brain stop and the healthy part start?

Why am I broken?

Why do I need to learn how to cope with life?

Why is it that because of my brain misfiring chemicals, I am somehow inferior to the “normal” population?

Who, where, and what is normal, mentally healthy population?

What is the baseline?

Who are you comparing me to?

My coping skills are:

  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Writing
  • Music
  • …and more!

These are NOT coping skills. They are life skills. Any human being, regardless of the chemical state of their brain, trauma or lack thereof in their history, drug usage or lack thereof, can do these things. None of these has a damn thing to do with being crazy or not being crazy.

Frankly, some of them are gifts, talents, and passions. My illnesses were aggravated if not completely caused by me being disconnected to myself, disconnected to the things that cultivated passion, happiness, and joy, and focusing solely on things that cultivated all of the symptoms I listed above. It’s interesting, though, because the flip side I have found in all of this: I am deeply sensitive, caring, compassionate, intelligent, witty, funny, creative, shall I continue sniffing my own farts? Socrates said, “Know thyself.” When I began my journey, I began writing again. This is when I started to untangle my true self versus the persona I played in my marriage, to my children, my family, my career, and so forth.

The brain that I am being told is so ILL is the same brain that is typing this. I have been miserable attempting to understand how I am ill because I am not ill. This is the language we are all using, and being told by the people we trust, and we keep parroting it around attempting to break a stigma that we are reinforcing. Anyone who goes around saying they have a mental illness, or using this kind of language is akin to a battered wife walking around saying, “It’s domestic affection, and I will stand for it!” as she leaves?

I’m not saying I don’t struggle. My brain causes me some serious pain here. I suffer. I just refuse to ascribe to this type of healthy versus ill for something as complicated as the human mind. Frankly, if you want me to believe I am mentally ill, then I would like you to show me ONE mentally healthy person. With proof.

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Coping skills are used in times of crisis. My life was an unending crisis. My depression often leads to suicidal ideation and suicidal intrusive thoughts. As I say often, “It’s not so much that I will actually kill myself, I just genuinely wish I was dead.” My old coping skills were to drink, binge and purge, love/sex addiction, you get the drift? If anything, I used to be very normal. Show me a person who doesn’t escape their problems, and I’ll show you a very “healthy” individual. I said in my first post about lying? All of this occurred while I was smiling and saying everything was fine. I thought I had it under control until I was twitching, stuttering, and on my way to the mental hospital for the first time. I was then taught new coping skills.

Breathing exercises for panic attacks, as opposed to being used daily to elevate your mood and connect the body to the breath and so forth (pranayama). Journaling for mood tracking, as opposed to connecting with your inner self and seeing how much you lie to yourself and others on a daily basis. Meditation was taught to me in the mental hospital without any spiritual guidance. This is inherently unwise. You are giving someone a limited scope of a powerful transcendental tool – much like giving someone a gift card for 3 million dollars and telling them it’s worth $100 and only showing how to use it at one store, one way. Further, you are giving them no spiritual guidance, no spiritual anything, with a tool meant to help you go on a journey within to help you connect with yourself, the God of your understanding, and no worries, it will relieve your stress.

I know in today’s society, God is often looked at as a dirty word, but CG Jung, one of my personal heroes and a dead dude who I obsessively study and helped me understand my mind, said a healthy mind needs a connection to the divine.  He said many psychological conditions are manifestations of spiritual crises. I’m HEAVILY paraphrasing. Or, to put it another way, in order to have a healthy mind, one must have a purpose if the God thing really gripes at you. Look at AA and you’ll understand a lot of Jung’s psychology, as many of the 12 steps used his work. Am I saying everyone with depression needs to go to AA? No.

I am saying, however, there needs to be a bridge between psychology and philosophy and/or spirituality. You cannot look (in my case) your psychologist in the eye and say, “I think I just don’t know what I believe in, I feel like my soul is fucking dying, and I feel like there has to be more to life than going to work for 8 hours every day, and washing dishes.” and getting “Well, you can try joining a class or something?” That was the last time I saw my psychologist. Instead, I became that bridge.

There is too much focus on an illness that must be treated. This is not being viewed as a person needing education, guidance, and direction.  Are there crazy people? Yes, and let’s stop mixing words. I have seen some SHIT in the mental hospital. There are people who are not here on this plane of existence, my friends. There are people who get in full on arguments with their right shoulder.  Crazy means “mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.” I have seen that. We’ve all probably seen that. However, most of us think of crazy in terms of “not normal”. I think part of the stigma needs to be an allowance that there are crazy people. That doesn’t make them subhuman, but I think if we would drop the euphemisms and intelligently have a discourse about our actual states of mind, we’d find a lot of common ground.

I finally have shed that illusion and desire to be normal. Why would anyone want to be someone that is “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”?? I have lived my life in a desperate search for something I would never want to be while being terrified of something I am not. This confusion, chaos, and suffering existed purely because of how we all discuss who we are, how we are, and how we feel.

My coping skills were fear, lying, shame, self-harm, various forms of addiction, abuse, and so on. I have an obsession with language. Coping is what you do to get through things. Cope – the root of this word – is to “blow with a fist” (kolaphos – Greek). Coping, to me, is fighting, struggling. It’s odd, as the definition says to deal with successfully. We say we “cope” with trauma. I cope with hard times. I do not cope with my life. If you want to say “mental illness” is a part of your life…

Do you want to cope with life?

Fuck. That. I want to LIVE my life. I LOVE my life.  

I am a firm believer in the power of words and self-talk. I genuinely believe in being selective in how I speak to and about myself, because if I don’t believe in myself…Who the hell will? When I started tearing apart how I spoke to myself, symptoms, diagnoses, etc. I started to see how disempowering this entire industry is. I say that word specifically too, as I did not start making significant improvement until I became an educated patient (human) regarding the diagnoses, medications, etc. Then, I started advocating & fighting for myself and saw that at the end of the day:

I am responsible for my welfare, wellbeing, and happiness (like everyone human on this planet). 

As I began studying spirituality, which then turned to philosophy, a reoccurring theme is disciplining the mind. Buddhism, Stoicism, Taoism, and on and on teaches you how to understand your mind, understand yourself, to alleviate most of the symptoms (suffering) listed above. The first thing I learned in the mental hospital was meditation and mindfulness – Buddhist practices.

Not to knock anyone’s anything, but why follow clinical, watered down, industrialized euphemistic stuff, when I can go to the 49 page Dhammapada and learn from the man himself? The Buddha’s wisdom is profound and simple.

“No man causes suffering like an undisciplined mind.” Buddha

I would never tell anyone how to heal, study, recover, etc. I will, however, strongly recommend vigilance in the language you use to describe yourself and how you are conducting your life. Are you coping or are you living?

 

Since JM requested new age… I don’t know what that is, but does this work? LOVE binaural beats

 

New Chapter

I was in 7th grade when I realized how much I loved writing. Until that time, I struggled to express myself. It was never that I had trouble talking. I am a chatterbox. Talking about how I actually felt, on the other hand…. Talking about the truth, on the other hand….

I had lots of lies: white, omission, and so on. As I grew older, I became much better at lying. I remember in High School worrying that I would blur the lines between my lies and the truth. I reassured myself I could always write, and I would be fine.

Once I became a “big girl”, I stopped writing. As a matter of fact, I simply handed the authorship of my life to everyone else. I still talked, I still smiled. I was perfect, so I did not have anything to worry about. I am unsure who I lied to more – myself or everyone else. Is it actually a lie if you are simply attempting to avoid causing pain?

I did not want to deal with any of it, so I had thought perfection was the best way to cope with everything. I realize I’m being very unspecific. Why should I be specific? I don’t think much of what I am writing here is unique. I know plenty of people who paint on smiles as they die inside.

I said to a friend the other day, “I used to be a dead girl living. Now that I am finally alive, I look around and see a lot of dead people. It keeps me compassionate and humble.”

There is nothing more dangerous than the lies we tell ourselves. Yet, as I have come to find; there is nothing more beautiful than finding your truth hidden inside the lie. Throughout our lives, we have been conditioned to think everything is good or bad, but that is nonsense. Every bad thing in my life has made me stronger, smarter, happier. I’m sure the same is true for anyone who reads this.

I will keep my first post brief and vague, because what’s life if not for intrigue? No sense prattling on for years.

The most beautiful gardens grow in shit.

Our lies are only lies until we see the truth.

Mistakes can be viewed as painful or as teachers, but either way – it was a lesson.

A fool who persists in his folly will become wise ~ William Blake