The Sacred Centre

sharing – daring – caring – writing from the heart

Category: mental-health

Back into Darkness

P3201418.JPGI still mourn the loss of my most cherished follower who left my blog while I was recounting my last stay at Plum Village, now nearly two years ago. However much this upsets me (incredible that it does at all) I can see why he unfollowed me. My writing and my experience of life, more so of Plum Village, had changed.

It was the start of a new journey for me. Out of the depths of darkness that is depression, into a confusing time of change with medication that I never intended to take. You might as well mourn my death as well, as the person I was and the believes I once held have changed.

It is not so much the medication that did this, contrary to my own popular belief, but simply me, deciding to take the medication in the first place. I was always against medication, believed I could get along just fine with a healthy diet, yoga and complementary therapies. To make the decision to take medication was a last resort, there was not much else left at the time.

After I got out of the initial adjustment phase I enjoyed a few months “normality” where life was good and I got on well with the world. Then I began to feel the anxiety return, triggers hit harder and deeper and when I felt myself return to that dark and exhausting place, I literally begged for a higher dose.

Everything went a little bit lighter and easier again for a while, but never again quite so beautiful as when the medication first worked. Once you have the direct comparison between how beautiful life can be and how bad it can get, you will do almost anything to get back to the good time. Your every addict’s explanation for hitting that next high just one more time.

So up went the dose again but not much changed, the little lighter phase hardly recognisable. Then I had my first proper panic attack with blackout and A&E. All tests returned normal. It is clearly all just in my mind…

Then I got started on a different type of medication with terrible side effects, leaving me even more tired and yet strangely motivated to voice my darker inner world and follow my suicidal ideations, with the only positive, albeit not a positive at all, being that instead of bottling up my anger it now shot out of me at any opportunity, unpredictable like a dragon spits fire. And I still had yet another panic attack.

At my wits end I write a long letter to my GP, explaining what I find difficult to put into spoken words, who finally refers me to the local mental health team. I’m in a very dark place, they think it is not because of the new medication but rather that the dosage isn’t high enough.

“Hang in there, we’ll get you the help you need. You will feel better”, they say.

So I’m hanging in there, half dead, half alive. Live has turned pretty meaningless and it is my job that provides stability and routine to get me out of bed and gives me at least some sort of purpose and sense of meaning, however difficult it is at times to focus and put on a smiley face.

Then someone sais: “It can’t be that bad if one can still go to work…”

And the struggle continues, walking on that tight rope above the deep darkness, one minute hoping to make it to the other end, the next just wanting to give up and let myself fall into the darkness, where I can simply give into the tiredness, to sleep and not having to struggle no more to keep it together for society’s sake.

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I have so far avoided to write such dark thoughts onto this blog which was meant to be uplifting and enlightening. But the Sacred Centre was also meant to represent my inner self, to acknowledge what is there and let it come up to be healed. This is my attempt to acknowledge this shitty dark place inside of me. Even though it isn’t a very likeable one, it is still a part of me, and it deserves a voice just like the others do.

Another reason I haven’t posted anything for a while is that I seem to have lost everything I have believed in. So this might well be the biggest personal and spiritual crisis I ever had or simply an undiagnosed mental health condition that I have tried to cover up by focusing on the positives in life with the help of practical self-help solutions, which to be fair did help. But I now feel that I’ve exhausted all avenues of conventional and alternative treatments and still feel worse.

“It’s normal to feel like this at times”, is a common well-meant encouragement.

But it portrays nothing of the very “unnormal” struggle inside myself, or for any other person suffering from a mental health condition. So what’s the solution? Other than simply follow my suicidal thoughts, I’m yet to find out. I will sure keep you updated once I do. In the meantime I’m pondering on the thought that I need to allow myself to fall into the darkness and live it because otherwise I will never be able to truly be myself.

If you would like to read more about mental health, I have written more under “Mind over Matter” on my blog “The Cycle of my Life“.

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As Yet Untitled

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I think I’m finally on the mend.

I had a little cry today (while watching “The fault in our stars”).

I’ve been longing to cry since an “accidental” outburst nine months ago when I learned that my boyfriend had spent all afternoon alone in our hotel room in New York just in case I would come back and didn’t have to be alone after I had disappeared in the nearest underground after what I would call an episode of sorts in which my nerves just snapped and I had to get away from our friends while on holiday and legged it to the Brooklyn Bridge on my own.

Since then I’ve been having a tough time keeping my act together for another couple of months until my GP urged me to accept that being singed off work was a good thing to allow me to rest and recover, of which the recovery itself took a further three to four months until I finally found another job and escaped a stressful job that had plainly been making me ill.

And suddenly I not only had a new life ahead of me, but also a surprising amount of close friends, I found my distant dad and had a first real conversation with him, began painting again, joined a really lovely supportive new working environment, started to cook and bake a little more, and quite frankly am pleasantly overwhelmed by my sudden busy social life after years of social anxiety and persistent tiredness and lacking motivation.

I had found myself again.

So for me, finally being able to allow my tears to fall, is synonymous with allowing myself to feel a range and depth of emotions, which supposedly had somehow got blocked, either through my own pride of not admitting my weaknesses to myself and others or because I didn’t know where to direct them.

In the past month I had incredibly eye-opening talks with individuals, whom I never considered to have stories like those they shared with me. But by opening myself up, showing my own vulnerability, they must have felt save to share theirs with me, which added a whole nother connection between us, adding depth to growing friendships.

I’m still experiencing occasional bouts of anxiety but I now am aware of when they arise and am able to use new found tools to keep them under control, even if that means simply having to sit and breathe with the horrible wave of nausea instead of following the strong urge to run away and hide somewhere save.

Having been wanting to put all these suddenly emerging emotions into words over the past few months had proved difficult for me, there just weren’t enough appropriate words to describe what I was suddenly feeling. And I’m not even sure what I want to say, just that I am incredibly lucky to be alive and to be able to feel what I’m feeling, see what I’m seeing, hear what I’m hearing, taste what I’m tasting and sense that this life is a gift, that I should cherish and not waste with worrying about the future or past, but to just live it one step at a time while keeping in touch with myself and those around me, to connect with the world, its people and nature.

That is the simple truth of life: just live it.

With love
Anna

Third Day – Releasing Blame

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This morning was beautiful. Fresh air after the rain, golden sunshine. As I sat down to look over the frog pond, a light sprinkle of rain blessed us while the sun looked on. It was as if the rain wanted to be part of this beautiful experience, like a cosmic handshake or hug.

Last night us three in the room were talking and laughing and it felt so good, exactly what I had been missing. Like hanging out with friends you’ve known all your life and you’re finally catching up again, despite having known them a mere three days. It felt good in my heart.

All night I was dreaming, waking, sleeping, tossing and turning. Today is lazy day, two more hours sleep, breakfast, a long and gentle yoga session, shower. I’m wondering: Have I been on my own too long or too much so that I feel the only way is my own way? Is that why I feel like rebelling against rules?

In on of my dreams last night I cried a little after a silly girl said to me that maybe I shouldn’t go on a run with them since my bad mood would bring them all down. Afterwards I felt like saying that she “should” have been more supportive and could have helped me lift my mood instead of rejecting me. I didn’t cry for long, there were things to do, even in my dream world.

I’m reading “Mutant Message Down Under” by Marlo Morgan and am equally amazed as I am unsure of whether it is fiction or reality. The reviews are confusing but the simple truths of humanity, which we seem to have forgotten all about, are revealed by example of the life and believes of the Australian Aborigines. It might be an invented story but this doesn’t make it any less mind blowing and answers a lot of questions as well as offers advice, coinciding with my own thoughts and conversations with other retreat participants. As soon as I pick up the book, there is the answer in black and white!

In terms of dreams, for example, one member of the tribe realises after a dream about a turtle with only two legs on one side that his aches and pains had materialised because his job as tool maker, which he loved, had become less enjoyable with more self-inflicted pressure, so he was signalled a need for change. He had become one-sided, hence the two legged turtle, no longer balanced in work and play. He said: “When thinking became flexible, joints became flexible. No pain no more.”

There will be more working meditations this week and something in me is really going against it. I struggle enough with the early sitting mediations and worry that by pushing myself too hard I will get worse again. On the other hand I wonder whether it is a good opportunity to gently get myself prepared for work again. I do worry that I won’t be able to do my job when I return next week…

On jobs Mutant Message Down Under sais: “Business seemingly has become a hazard to humanity. It started as means to get better things, to express individual talent and become part of the money system. But now the goal of business is to stay in business. But business isn’t real, it’s only an idea, an agreement.”

The book describes how the tribal members believe that the difference you make in the world is by leading by example, by the things you do. That gives them the drive to be a better person each day. They say: “People are non-living when angry, depressed, feeling sorry for themselves or filled with fear. Breathing doesn’t determine being alive. It just tells others which body is ready for burial or not. Not all breathing people are in a state of aliveness. It’s okay to try out negative emotions to see how they feel, but it certainly isn’t a place one would wisely want to stay.”

I remembered yesterday’s dharma talk and the topic of blame. “We can’t blame others, no matter how much we feel we ought to.” Our emotions are within us and others merely mirror them. What we react to is ourselves. Just what to do with that blame? It’s easy to direct it at ourselves, but not advisable. Sitting with it is hard. A life without blame, or rather the prospect of it, appears to be happier. How does it feel to be happy, without anger or pain, I ask one of the girls: “Light, free” she sais after a few moments of thinking. “Happiness is peaceful” sais another. I wonder, will we get bored when we’re always happy? Do we create emotions to “entertain” us when we’re bored, like a theatre production?

I realise how much I have been blaming others: my father, teacher, technology, the world, climate change, other people, my boyfriend, manager, work, depression, the system, food, the weather, my genes, my body, myself. So what remains if I don’t blame any of those? A whole lot of nothing?

Again from the book: “The only way to pass any test is to take the test. All tests at any level are repeated until you pass.”

“Happiness is freedom from wanting!” Leaving the bookshop “just” with an ice-cream is a start.

After a long lazy day we practice beginning anew in the evening. Touching the earth I vow to release blame and express my hurts. There are still no tears but I feel lighter, happier after releasing attachment to blame. I’ve been tying too many knots over the years by swallowing hurts and blaming others for my pain instead of speaking up and clearing my emotions. Now I have arrived at the bottom and can begin to untie one knot at a time. Releasing the built up anger, becoming free and happy.

That night I write a letter to my boyfriend, saying how I admire him, regret how I made him suffer with my mood swings and not listening to him properly, saying how I also feel disappointed that he doesn’t give me his full attention when talking to him, wishing that we can become more aware of each other’s emotional needs. I feel relief.