TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Anxiety

Stormy Weather

 

Taking a break from blogging for awhile.  Following a class with the famous yogi, Sadhguru, on Inner Engineering which is quite wonderful and I plan on spending lots of time on.  A sample of his way of thinking is below.


Presence and the Absence of Fear

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The Veil of Love

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and you a warm lump
under the covers
of Morpheus
and me wide awake
with eyes moist with tears
I write
lest I forget
the vulnerability of you
yesterday
lest one day
you ARE no longer
a day of dread
so locked into desire
for your presence am I
fearful of the future
lest it tears me from you
or me from you
“Until death do us part”
the import of those words
have begun to resound
with a fierce vengeance
now 30 years later
the treasure of you
multiplies like the loaves and fishes
for I fear a famine
not of food
but of your presence
I try to hold each wrinkled emotion
on your face
in a forever place in my heart
lest you be torn from me
Not following the wisdom
of the sages
to live forever in the present
the specter of loss
hangs over me
haunting our life together
And yesterday
when you cried
when you disguised your tears
with embarrassed laughter
your eyes dripped diamonds,
sparkling as they fell
in response to mine
I crying because
there will never be
a happily ever after
at our age
sure as shooting
death will come
and rip us asunder
Perhaps our love
will be born again
in Samsara
but it is a “perhaps”
without a guarantee
My faith is feint
and my heart shudders
and flutters
under the threat
of separation
as you lay
a lump of warmth
in the land of Nod
Our love a fairy tale
in a fierce steely reality
of endings.
          *
“Unless we can discover that basic ground of goodness in our own lives, we cannot hope to improve the lives of others.”
Chogyam Trungpa
 HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

The Dawn of Hope and the Hope of Dawn

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I await the dawn
rigid with anxiety
each minute an hour
as you sleep beside me
lost in the land of Morpheus.
I cannot rest,
try talking to God
cannot hear Him.
Where is He?
No Presence felt
inside my icy heart.
Do the birds wait
like me, in despair,
for that first magenta burst
of the high and mighty sun?
Then when the first light comes
you awaken and bring tea,
I put my hand on your back
to bless you with Reiki,
as we lounge together drinking warmth.
And I feel God’s presence
and I feel joy and peace and love,
all snug in bed with you and God…
It is for these few special moments
I live.


Summer Inertia?

Am I caught in a web

like a fly in a drainpipe?

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Or is it summer inertia,

The lazy, hazy daze?

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Could it be

I have lost it totally

to a pharmaceutical lobotomy?

Or am I processing still

retreat with Mooji?

Anger is more controlled

and that is good

but creativity has taken a vacation and

kidnapped my muse leaving

no urge to make new words or pictures?

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Anxiety rules

and love flows

making me bow my head in prayer

and that is good

but what has happened to me?

I do not understand what I read

and have trouble processing

and cannot even comment.

Perhaps I am empty…


Trying to Write Again

No words.  No photos.  Fractured mind/body of Akathisia.

Faulty connection to God.  Weak link to Mooji.

It’s been awhile.

Forgive me if I have neglected your posts.  Cannot process lots of meaning.  Losing cognitive functioning.

Medication change.  In the last months of withdrawal. Finally totally off the blasted Zyprexa.   A  psych med.  Heavy duty antipsychotic on for 15 + years.  Sick from withdrawal and from increased dose of another antipsychotic been on 40 years.   Almost daily panic attacks and lots and lots of migraines.  Nausea.  Anxiety ad infinitum.

When will strength/creativity/spirituality return?

Better question…WILL it return?

There are far, far worse things.  Two blogging friends I hold in my heart, very sick, with serious stuff.

Better psych meds needed.  No, no, no!  Needing psych meds NOT a sign of weakness.  Unmedicated Bipolar 1 can be fatal.

Yes, fatal.
Poetry a memory.  Beauty ignored.  Even my refuge, Nature, cannot inspire.
Will figure this out with Doc.  Hope to figure it out with Doc.
Hope is hard to find.
Namaste.
Love still there.
The most important thing.

Send to all.


Alternatives and Non-Pharmaceutical Aids for Bipolars, Depressives and Other Mentally Ill

I am Manic-Depressive, more specifically, Bipolar 1. Unable to take the mood stabilizers usually prescribed for Bipolar Disorder—Valproic acid, Lithium Carbonate, Tegretol, Neurontin and Depakote, my therapist had me on a cocktail of anti-psychotics. Been on an old anti-psychotic, Thiothixene, for about 20 years and a new, atypical anti-psychotic, Zyprexa, for 15 years (more on that drug later).

The anti-psychotics, however, or the neuroleptics as they are called, while keeping me out of the mental hospital and enabling to live a somewhat “normal” life, had a depressant effect on me, robbing my life of all the joy and creativity I used to enjoy, as well as, my mystical experiences in nature.

In an effort to get my spark back, I was put on practically every anti-depressant there is. From the old ones like Tofranil, Elavil, Norpramin and Pamelor, to the newer ones like Effexor, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. All of them were rejected for reasons as numerous as the drugs themselves. From blunted affect, severe nausea, and weight gain, to a total inability to function or outright mania, even minute doses were problematic. As were my trials of the newer anti-psychotics. And I have heard from many that they have had similar or even more severe reactions to the same medications. A friend of mine attempted suicide on Wellbutrin.

Finally a psychologist recommended St. John’s wort. I was very worried about taking that after all my bad experiences with anti-depressants. But I found a research grade St. John’s wort and gave it a try. I felt a difference the very next day despite being told the effects would kick in gradually. The change was dramatic as demonstrated in what I wrote after one day on St. John’s wort:

Ko-ko, our four-legged, faithful companion, runs into the bedroom, eager to join me on the bed, awash with pure joy. She takes a flying leap up and we lounge together like lizards basking in the sun, reclining requisitely together. It is day 2 of St. John’s wort. Am filled with a loving glow as Ko-ko nestles down to sleep beside me. The beauty of yesterday lingers in my memory—a vacation day spent with my husband in the Palisades on an early October day. The sweet, crackling autumn air filled our lungs as we climbed the Palisades for a spectacular view of the Hudson River. Our path strewn with crunchy, dry leaves. A trail leads us further upwards, the spongy ground, soft underfoot is strewn with paint box colored leaves. Yellow, crimsons, golden russets lay on the damp path, wet from yesterday’s rain. I give thanks to God in this cathedral of color. Try to experience the mysticism of my youth. Yearn to return to the photography and poetry writing of my pre-breakdown days. A revival of creativity. Thank you , God, for giving me my sight back.

As the days went by, more and more of the depression lifted. My husband was happier with me on the St. John’s wort because I was more loving. I also stopped drinking. Completely. And I had been a borderline alcoholic. The door to the prison had been opened and I was now freer. This improvement gradually leveled off and at times I found myself fighting depressions at times but nothing like the deep, black depressions before the SJW.

Still without a mood stabilizers I would cycle, but not psychotically. Next change to be made was to learn the hands on healing technique called Reiki in an attempt to recover my spirituality. Reiki continues to be a blessing as I do it daily to myself and in a prayer form for others. But I was still craving the spirituality of my youth.

Brought up Presbyterian and made to convert to Catholicism in grade school, organized religion was not working for me. I had done Transcendental Meditation in my twenties and dropped it for a reason I no longer remember. Continuing to pray rote prayers I followed Pema Chodron and Paramahansa Yogananda and others. I took about twenty of Yogananda’s lessons offered by Self-Realization Fellowship and meditated according to his teachings. I regard Yogananda as a saint, a true saint, but his path was not “doing it” for me. Tremendous anxiety would take over. And then, through Hariod Brawn on Contentedness.net, I met Mooji and I began listening to his guided meditations and watching his satsangs. Additionally, while convalescing from pneumonia recently, my husband read books written by an old friend he had while pursuing religious studies at the University of Edinburgh. A Celtic Christian minister and reformer, J. Philip Newell. Curious, I read him, too, and he helped me on the path with Mooji. Through Mooji I found that the Self is not Bipolar or OCD or Asperger’s or depressed. Those are troubles of the body/mind/ego self. The “person” in other words. If I can go into the “Presence of God” as Newell says, or into the “Self” as Mooji says, I can be well. Mooji has helped me regain my spirituality and is making me whole.

The last change I made was to get off the newer anti-psychotic, Zyprexa, for health reasons. The drug has horrid side effects including dizziness, heavy weight gain, problems with heat and more. The withdrawal from Zyprexa is very,very hard. I still have .5 mg to go to get off it completely. Meantime, the same company where I buy the research grade St. John’s wort, offers a homeopathic Lithium Orotate (not Lithium Carbonate) spray called Symmetry. Have been using that with great results. Am very even. Gone are the manic nights of insomnia and the deep, dark depressions that sometimes broke through the St. John’s wort. Gone is the rapid cycling.

The company that offers the research grade St. John’s wort (the only brand of St. John’s wort that has worked for me) is Hypericum.com. The homeopathic Lithium Ortotate is offered by the same company. I have no interest in this company and am not paid by them to offer this information. I am not saying that all these things will work for those you touched by the fire of Bipolar Disorder or the black hole of depression or any other disorder. And certainly you must consult your therapist before trying any medication. For example, you cannot mix St. John’s wort while taking certain drugs. Specially mixing St. John’s wort with other antidepressants can be very dangerous. I am just offering alternative to those of you who may have had the same experiences and presenting what has helped me in my own battles. Talk to your therapist if interested.

And last but not by any means least, is Mooji. All information about him is to be found at Mooji.org. There are many, many free Satsang and guided meditation videos available there and on YouTube.

He answered my question about being able to being “realized” despite having Bipolar Disorder and I see now what he said made all the difference in the world. The person is Bipolar but the Self is not! Through watching his satsangs and doing meditation with him daily I am returning to the spirituality of my youth, before my breakdown. I have miles to go but with his help I am more able to cope with this dream we call life.


A Medical Warning to the Medicated– Trigger warnings

We who are mentally ill are at the mercy of our psychiatrists.  They throw pills at us hoping to help us.  Okay, to be fair, some pills DO work.  At one point in my life, they kept me out of the mental hospital.  But sometimes they don’t.  I have been ailing for months and my general practitioner could not find anything wrong despite constant low grade fever, three or four migraines a week, faintness and dizziness.  He never called me a hypochondriac.  The thermometer did not lie.  But I felt he thought me a complaining nuisance.  My psychiatrist was mystified!  He should not have been.

Miraculously, for some reason, out of the blue, I remembered years ago, when the psychiatrist first put me on Zyprexa, never being more sick so often than when I went on it.  I googled “Zyprexa side effects” and found fever, faintness and dizziness as side effects, especially when combined with other drugs I am taking, prescribed by said psychiatrist.

Zyprexa IS a miracle drug psychologically.  It DID help me over come much, but definitely not all, anxiety.  It DID stabilize my moods better than anything before since I cannot take typical mood stabilizers.  Recently, though, the physical symptoms have been taking a toll on my life.  I have found it hard to keep up friendships.  I became housebound due to feeling ill.  I found it hard to keep up with the blog and haven’t been posting like I used to, nor able to read nearly as many posts of people I love to follow.  Maybe some of you noticed.   Maybe not.  In desperation I finally told my psychiatrist that I wanted to get off Zyprexa.  He was all for it due to side effects of serious weight gain and a propensity towards diabetes.  Why had he not told me to get off it before???

Well, two days into withdrawal, I am nauseous and have flu-like dizziness and weakness.   And I am nursing a husband who has bronchitis.  I have started the withdrawal and intend to try to continue.  Trying to figure out just what was going on, I googled “Zyprexa withdrawal.”  Guess what?  Flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, all for an indefinite length of time.  I only decreased the dosage by one half a pill, 1 measly milligram, and am having this hard of a time.  I will have to go through this again when I decrease the other half dose.

Why don’t doctors know about ALL the side effects of the pills they prescribe???  And why don’t they warn the patients of the withdrawal possibilities???  I have been on Zyprexa for 10 or so years.  So this will be heavy duty withdrawal.

We who are mentally ill must suffer not only symptoms but the opprobrium of our friends, doctors and all who come in contact with us.  It is not just the mental illness we suffer from but side effects from the medications as well.

In part, I blame myself.  I should have been more informed.  I should have questioned the doctors.  I should have googled symptoms earlier.  I should not have blindly trusted my psychiatrist.  I should have remembered back to a time when I had health.  But I didn’t.

A warning to all those Schizophrenics and Bipolars out there or anyone else whose doctor is thinking of putting them on Zyprexa, MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION!  Discuss the costs and the benefits, not just the benefits.

And if you are on Zyprexa and want to go off it, tell your doctor first!!!  Don’t do it on your own!!!  Abrupt withdrawal can be fatal.  Yes, fatal, as in dead.

And to my followers, I am sincerely sorry for not always responding, visiting or reading your posts over the past few months.  Have no idea how this is going to play out but it has to be.  I will do what I can.

Love always,

Ellen

 

 

 

 

 

 


Life vs. Death, Living vs. Existing

 

I know the importance of mental health screening first hand, as a person who is Bipolar, with Asperger’s, OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Therapy works.  So does the right combination of medications.  It is the difference between life and death.  It is the difference between just existing and living a productive life with loving relationships.  If you are having difficulties coping, feel you cannot go on as you are, are depressed or have any number of emotional problems, get screened.  Get help. You cannot do it alone.  I know.  I tried.  This may be the single most important decision of your life. And if you are interested you can read about the story of my battle against mental illness.

For screening go to: 

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

 


Confessions of an Agoraphobic

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I will do almost anything to stay at home. Granted I have a few chronic illnesses that keep me in but it is mental illness that is the real challenge. Mental illnesses, plural, and phobias, to be more exact. Bipolar Disorder, Asperger’s, OCD, Emetophobia, Claustophobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Agoraphobia. And I do what mentally ill people do.  I isolate.

Life can be lived through the ethernet. Luckily for me and many others. One can stay in the apartment for days. Today, however, I had to go out. My husband asked me to check the car. And there was shopping to be done and a trip to the post office required. Shit! Forgot to take major meds last night and was not in good shape yesterday either.  Dreading going out!  A one mile errand for me is like a trip to China. First off, take the missed meds. And make the preparations to go out, hiding money in case of a mugging, packing a phone, emergency meds and emergency numbers for my husband, etc., etc., etc.

Then comes the moment of truth, going out the door. Meet a neighbor and surprised that could handle her in my fragile state, and was, in fact, good with her. Not always the case. Helped a new neighbor and walked out the door into the street. A man coughing. He may vomit. Terrified of vomit and vomiting. I search out the streets and buses for people who look sick or sound sick, coughing, etc. The origin of this phobia– an alcoholic father who was often sick, but knowing that does not help matters. Make it past the coughing man and note his location to look for vomit on the way back.

Then there are all the unknown. This is New York City after all. Dirty, smelly, overstimulating, overcrowded, noisy New York City. People approaching you for good causes, bogus causes, begging, anything is possible. It is not like I am a newcomer here, having lived in New York City for six-plus decades and worked all over the city for three of those decades. Until I couldn’t any more.

Someone once asked me what was there to be afraid of? What could possibly go wrong? Oh, wrong question. I could easily rattle off twenty-five scenarios of disaster and then some. But this morning surprisingly and unusually, am happy to be outside. Greet my Indian newsstand lady friend and my friendly Hispanic super next door. All goes smoothly. The clerk in the post office ends on a kind note after my botched addresses had to be fixed. It actually, and can’t believe I am saying this, but, it actually feels good to be out.  Give a beggar a dollar and talk to him. Feeling good outside is a rarity. Perhaps it is the missed medication. Secretly I still believe the medication takes away something good in me. Still suffer from the delusion that all ills come from the medication, though “know” I cannot function without it. Actually perhaps it is doubling up on the dose that helps. Perhaps I should be on a higher dose of the anti-psychotic. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Trip over. Glad to be back home. Didn’t feel faint until back home. One of these days  will venture out to shop for a new pair of jeans. One of these days…

(For more writing on battling mental illness please see my e-book, “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things” on Amazon.  Also available on Smashwords, iBooks and Nook.)