>The following e-mail really shows, what I think, will be the future of how bipolar people will come to understand their condition, and, perhaps most importantly, how we can use meds as a tool, to help manage our daily lives, without giving up our free will or our desire to unlock the spiritual awakening which happens to us within a manic episode. Thank you Reggie! I´m sure people will learn a ton from what you have written here…
I wanted to email you to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the material you have put out there on bipolar disorder. You are a godsend. A little less than two years ago I went through what I believed at the time was a fundamentally spiritual experience, which parallels yours in many ways.
While I was hospitalized (for “bipolar mania”) and even for a while after, I held on to the idea that my experience was a spiritual one, that I was misdiagnosed and should be put in some different category. But after a little time and a lot of drugging, I eventually gave in to my family (in particular my mother) and the medical establishment to believe that I was “dis-ordered,” that my experience was not a healing one (which is actually the attitude I went into mania with), but rather a horrible trauma due to an unspecified “chemical imbalance” in my brain.
I did not have anyone around me who “got” the kind of spirituality I was getting into, so I did not have anyone to validate my experience, or who was even willing to listen or even try to understand (although to be fair I should say my father, who is bipolar himself and not very fond of meds, tried some, but did not really “get” the spirituality the same way I did. He was also fairly removed from my life at the time due to outside circumstances). I went into a deep 6-month depression, but even after the depression lifted, I was not myself at all. I was basically a “zombie,” who could neither think nor feel.
It was not for nearly another 6 months that I had the guts to defy what my doctor and family said and lowered my own medications. . . and lo and behold! I started to feel (and act) much better. Even my mother could not deny the benefits of my going lower (though she was very nervous about the idea of me being on fewer meds). I had to fight and negotiate for the next 6 months, but I have been able to get on a very low dose of medication, and I feel so much better.
On the lower doses of meds, I started to feel like exploring my spirituality again. I was no longer a zombie. In my explorations, a few weeks ago I happened upon one of your videos, and was immediately hooked. This was a person who understands, who knows what it is like to embrace the experience of mania and come out the other side a changed person. Who understands that it is (or at least can be) a healing process, which is what I believed it to be as I was entering it. Finally I had found a person who could completely validate the spiritual nature of the experience, who completely “gets it” and can explain it in a very coherent and understandable way. I feel such a tremendous sense of relief with this kind of validation. There are others out there who see it the same way I did initially (and can explain it much better than I can).
I no longer feel compelled to automatically acquiesce to the popular versions of what “bipolar disorder” is and how it should be “treated.” I can decide for myself how to interpret my own experience. And what I do to handle my “condition” is a matter of my own choice.
It is within my rights to choose for myself whether I will take medications or not, and if so how much I am willing to take. In trying to make this decision, however, I do consider the risks of having another “spiritual emergency,” and what impacts that is likely to have on my life. Figuring out how to fit back in to society after coming down from a mania can be a rough and painful experience, and I would likely face pressure to again conform to the opinions and standards of mainstream society and the medical establishment. But on the other hand, the mind-numbing and perception-altering effects of the psychoactive drugs that modern medicine medicine has tried to push on me drastically inhibit my ability to think clearly as well my spiritual (and emotional) awareness, sensitivity, and growth. On high doses, I feel like a zombie. On very low doses, it is not so bad, but I still notice the effects in a more subtle form.
In the end, I know that developing my soul is more important than fitting in to a misguided and ignorant society that attempts to label and subdue my emerging spirit. I hope to some day be medication free and emotionally and spiritually stable. But for practical reasons at this time I choose to take a small amount of medication. It pleases my mother and my psychiatrist, and I must admit that the medication seems to throttle down my tendency to depart from the “ordinary” ways of viewing the world.
For the time being I hope to steer clear of another mania, and I believe the meds do help prevent mania from getting started (albeit at a cost). However, at the same time, I am trying to move back toward the spirituality which did originally lead me into a spiritual emergency. In doing this, I try to be patient, and not too eager. I hope to explore these realms slowly and carefully enough so that I do not again lose my grip on reality. But it is often very hard for me to contain my enthusiasm, and I know that in my explorations I may indeed lose touch with the reality of the common world and go into another “manic episode.”
If I do “pop” again, I hope to be able to embrace the experience, as I initially did before. But this time around, I believe I know better than to give in to the labels society tries to stamp on me afterwards. With the knowledge that I am not alone in viewing this as a “spiritual emergency” rather than a “mental illness,” I feel much more confident in saying that I am not, nor have I ever been, truly “crazy.”
Watching your videos and reading your book have given me the validation I needed to accept what deep down I already knew was true. I no longer feel the same pressure to yield to those who have tried to convince me otherwise. It feels as if a heavy weight has been lifted. My “condition” is a (potentially wonderful) way of being, not a flaw to be covered up or suppressed with medications.
Thank you so much for your courage and your effort toward spreading a daringly truthful message in a world of misunderstanding, ignorance, and opposition. It is desperately needed.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.