Below is an excerpt from my book, “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.” In this section of my book I am describing to my therapist a theory I had researched in grad school before my psychotic break with reality at age 28, long before I was to start my life over from scratch as a conceptually-challenged yet more feeling person. Breakdowns can destroy cognitive functioning. It did for me. While I was never ever good at conceptual thinking, the breakdown has made it virtually impossible to understand even the most basic concepts. Despite being on medications for Bipolar Disorder, my mind simply does not work as it once did. This is often humiliating and frustrating though I am mostly okay with it.
Yet, in the past few months, I found Mooji and am following his path– something I thought I would never do because Buddhism was so “beyond” me. And I find myself following many Buddhist blogs. Many times reading such posts and poetry sail way above my comprehension. But this, too, is good. It is humbling and it deprives the ego of its food supply, which according to Mooji, is good. A “chop” at the ego-self is needed over and over again in order to be in the Presence. But the mind still yearns to understand.
For what it is worth here is the excerpt from a therapy session in which I describe my “theory” to my therapist. What is synchronicitous is that the theory sounds somewhat Buddhist in nature. It opens with me talking to my therapist, or rather, reading from my notebook, because I found it difficult to talk at times.
“Alpha = life in utero. Birth = the end of life in utero— death of a sort, a seeming death. Birth is entering the world of light— Reality.
“Reality is too much. People need to escape— to regress. Therefore, the mind goes into altered states of consciousness.” I look up and stop reading and explain. “I studied this when I was in graduate school. I hit upon the literature of altered states of consciousness while I was in a Psych class doing a research paper on creativity and I became obsessed with the topic. I nearly had a breakdown then because I wasn’t eating or sleeping or going to classes. All I was doing was this research and writing. A friend in the dorm used to make sure I ate something. But all that time I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. The material was difficult and I was afraid I was really going off the deep end and writing far out stuff. But in the end the professor gave me an A+ on the paper…”
“Anyhow,” I say as I start to read from my notebook again, “many altered states of consciousness have been found to coincide with the production of alpha brain wave patterns.” I stop reading again and say, “I know this first hand because I did biofeedback once and the feeling you get when you’re producing alpha waves is the same as the one you get in mystical experiences and meditation. Altered states of consciousness typically occur under conditions of sensory deprivation or sensory overload because overloading the system shuts it down, so in effect it becomes a condition of sensory deprivation. The first experience of sensory deprivation occurs in the womb. The ultimate form of sensory deprivation is death. Death is a return to the womb. The womb of the earth. Therefore, Alpha = Omega.”
So there it is in a nutshell. The book is mainly an emotional chronicle of relationships, and finding love, despite being very handicapped by Bipolar Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD. If you would like to purchase it for $2.95 please click on the link below:
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.)
Kitt O’Malley over at Kittomalley.com, so generously reviewed my book on being Bipolar and Aspie and the fight for sanity and love, in a post on her blog. Kitt, a psychotherapist and mother and wife, writes about vital and informative topics pertaining to mental health, ranging from being a Bipolar parent to a relationship with God. She can also be found at @kittomalley on Twitter. A big THANK YOU to Kitt for posting this review.
I greatly enjoyed reading and highly recommend Ellen Stockdale Wolfe’s autobiographical story of love alongside psychological and neurological growth: Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things: Learning to Love as a Bipolar Aspie. In her memoir, Ms. Stockdale Wolfe writes of her struggle with Asperger’s and Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features. Her autobiography traces her growth in her ability to love deeply and truly, her mental health history, and how she overcame challenges of her unique Aspie brain (Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder). She uses that unique brain as well as her sensitive soul to create beauty, whether it be this memoir, a poem, photograph, or painting. To see more of her stunning work, check her out at StockdaleWolfe.com, her site is appropriately entitled MOONSIDE | TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART.
Patterns of the microcosm
echoed in the macrocosm
lots of frustration
can’t calm down
do the Hong Sau
the only hope
in this mind
doing 120 mph
in a 35 mph zone
time soon for sleep
a pre-dawn high
drained at noon
back to racing
to feel awe
love in the afternoon
a natural anti-
sent sight soaring
in noisy ears
the hum of quiet
seems too loud
with all over
stop I say
stop I pray
stop the way
the world spins
hurling in space
take this body
in your arms
work your charms
on this alarm-
these frantic antics
quell the panic
break the day
and bring on
As someone with Asperger’s who spent much of my life avoiding eye contact until I was properly medicated, I still feel uncomfortable with eye contact in human interaction. Yet I actively seek out eye contact with animals. I am not alone in this. For people with Asperger’s and Autism, eye-contact with humans is fearsome and yet with animals, sublime.
People say eye contact with animals is less threatening, yet I believe there is more to it than that. Gazing into the eyes of an animal, I feel love, depth of consciousness, and connection– all qualities quite impossible to feel with humans, except in fleeting moments with my beloved Aspie husband who, too, has problems with eye contact. Perhaps because Aspies and Auties are so starved for affection, so hungry for a form of love that they CAN handle, animals offer pure and simple love, and unconditional acceptance. The truth is animals are excellent therapists and natural healers!! P.S. Animals are good for depressives, too.
(For more information on eye contact and Asperger’s and Bipolar Disorder, see the memoir I wrote of my experiences with love, called “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things” http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html)
Things have spiraled out of control. I am following far too many blogs and comments and finding it hard to keep up with all the new posts I want to read. I am on too many animal rights, environmental and political lists. Right now I have had a few weeks of migraines nearly everyday and am finding it hard to get myself to Physical Therapy to treat some problems that need addressing. I am losing my temper at my loving husband and he, in turn, is under so much pressure at his clinical social worker job that he is losing his as well. Clearly something has to be done. I cannot stand the person I have become.
This means I will not be posting for awhile and I am not sure how long, or, if this is turning into a bad thing altogether. I will not give up the animal activism and environmental lists because this is one of the few ways I can give to the world. There is a reason I have been on disability for the last 13 years. I have a major mental illness, Bipolar Disorder, and Asperger’s and these take their toll on my life and those around me. So please forgive me if I don’t read all your posts, or read them and don’t respond. I love some of you, and care for many of you, but now have to get my life back. This means more meditation, more Reiki, possibly learning Qi Gong and lots of prayer. It feels too bad right now to stay on the road I am on.
Good-bye for awhile and my warmest regards,
I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone interested in psychological exploration – from clinicians to self-diagnosticians to concerned family members to lovers of extraordinary tales well told.
Do not imagine that this is a lesson-plan about Bipolar Disorder, or Asperger’s Syndrome, for that matter. On the contrary, we see Ms. Wolfe wrestling with a panoply of symptoms residing on different points of a spectrum – we never know exactly where we are, and neither does Ms. Wolfe. We get first person, real-time intimacy – the raw data, not the spin.
Asperger’s, autism, schizophrenia, paranoia, mania, depression, and challenging questions of gender identity blur back and forth until one is overpowered by the sense of a shape-shifting, ghostly enemy. We witness Ms. Wolfe inaccurately interpreting social cues the way an anthropologist might puzzle over artifacts from an alien civilization.
The writing is austere, elegant, forceful and almost chillingly honest. There is not an ounce of self-pity to be found, or self-aggrandizement. Serious students of these illnesses could hardly find a more useful document because – using meticulous diaries she kept through the years – Ms. Wolfe has made scrupulous accuracy her battle cry.
From very early on I found myself caring about what happened to Ms. Wolfe, wanting to know more. I sensed sweetness, innocence, and vulnerability – and that made me want to protect her. Consequently, the dread I felt as I watched her struggle with her own mind – and the outside world – created the tension of real drama. One would have to be a cold fish indeed to not suffer along with her as she trudges ahead with heroic determination.
Ms. Wolfe has achieved something quite remarkable. She has applied the direct simplicity of science to a human ordeal and, in the process, accomplished what art does, when it is at its very best. She has fearlessly and generously taken us into her world and – in doing so – enriched us all.