A refreshing, radical look at how we define and respond to "mental illness", how it hurts us, and what we can do instead.

“How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?”

~Bob Marley

I met Ken by my own force. Seeing a comment he’d left on a friend’s blog post, I felt I needed to know him. Looking deeper, it turned out that he had a book about battling mental illness.

Fast forward just two weeks and I’m sitting glued to Ken’s book while visiting family, one person after another coming in every little while to comment on how far I’d read. I finished it in two days. It wasn’t short. And if it hadn’t been for mealtimes, politeness, and sleeping, I’d have read it in one.

What struck me, throughout Ken’s entire mental illness experience (which included hospitalization, hallucinations, and eventual psychiatric commitment) were three things:

  1. Everyone around him thought he was crazy and dangerous, while Ken gained abilities that some people vie to access with daily meditation and ceremony
  2. Our current mental health care system hasn’t progressed since the asylum days as much as we’d like to think (physical straitjackets replaced by chemical ones)
  3. Mental illness is a dream so bad that, if you’re lucky or well-supported, you might just realize you’re dreaming and wake up in a world where everyone else is still asleep

Ken and I swapped books. He was reading The Love Mindset while I read Detour From Normal. As he consumed my book in equally record time, he became incredibly emotional in his communications. He told me he read my eulogy to Vironika Wilde and that she sounded like every woman he met in the psych wards. He told me he was fully in the love mindset when he was manic, but since he didn’t end up there purposefully, he wasn’t seen as a guru or a master. He was just another crazy guy who needed to be doped up.

He realized he wasn’t the only one, he wasn’t crazy, and he certainly didn’t need medications. He needed some sleep, some support, and some encouragement to become the healer that he’s now blossoming into.

After I consumed its satisfying ending, Ken’s story planted itself in my mind, interweaving his memories with my own and with the memories of people I’ve met.

An old friend of mine, whose art is so captivating you could stare at it for hours, was put on Ritalin for drawing in math class.

Ken weaving tales of a utopian society, reaching out to help people believing his presence could heal them, and seeing the world through a lens of perfection—court-ordered Lithium.

My first vivid hallucinations when I was 18. My boyfriend at the time looking at me like I was a psycho. And then, the incredible amounts of nightmares and flashbacks that accompanied my healing process—all of them allowing me to process through traumatic, painful events. And what if I’d thought I was a psycho? What if I took the pills I was offered? Would I still be here?

My favourite book of all time—Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—the main character becoming obsessed with discovering the truth about reality, a truth so beautiful and ancient that few could deny it, only to be given electroshock treatment for his so-called dangerous mental illness.

A woman who reached out to me to tell me about keeping her son, clearly exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia, away from doctors and pills—the son recovering fully a year and a half of sleepless nights later.

Sam Shelley being diagnosed with bipolar and, after engaging in frequent and dedicated meditation, coming forth symptom-free and ready to help heal the world.

With all these stories in my head, it was hard to sleep. A darkness loomed over me—the darkness of a realization too painful to digest.

Our mental health care system is breaking people. We have no room for the sacred, only normal.

The narrow range of accepted behaviour and emotion expected from us is more resisting than most people realize. That is, until we experience beyond it. Until we’re judged. Until we don’t fit in. Until we’re told we need to fix ourselves.

I’m not sure how I ended up stumbling into this article today, but you know how these things happen. It’s called What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital.

In his village, the symptoms we commit people for, Dr. Somé’s village recognizes as marks of a healer. They honour, respect, and nourish the very same patterns that we condemn, isolate, and drug.

The article is worth a read. To be honest, I have a hard time with his explanations for why he says mental illness happens, but that is of no importance. I don’t need to believe how he says it happens to agree with him about the fact that it is happening.

We’re taking people with a completely different range of perception and calling it wrong.

We’re weeding out our geniuses. We’re killing off our prophets. We’re drugging our messiahs.

Were she alive today, Sylvia Plath would be on anti-depressants. Salvador Dali would be on anti-psychotics. Beethoven would be on Lithium. Newton would likely be committed as well as heavily drugged for his multiple, pervasive mental illness symptoms.

Don’t even get me started on Jesus Christ.

If you’re thinking that medications would have decreased these people’s suffering while allowing their gifts and talents to be explored, I’d suggest reading Ken’s book for a sobering look at the effects of Lithium. Then, get on Google and look up some common mental illness medications, their symptoms, and their side effects.

Perhaps the drugs would have prevented some suicides, though even that is questionable (as you’ll find on your search—some medications have been linked to suicide and homicide). But suppose they had. Then we’d have extended their lifetimes, while they would have faded into the background, known by few, remembered by no one.

The real tragedy is that, in Dr. Somé’s village, though they respect the “mentally ill” healers’ journeys, they take precautions knowing that these people require an incredible amount of support through this time.

How unfortunate that, in our society, those who refuse to take medications don’t have anything to catch them or support them. There’s no group of people willing to support and honour their new abilities. No one to celebrate their experiences. No one to listen to them.

There’s only the pain and the desire to get rid of it. Hence, the ledge.

So what do we do? Where do we go? Where could Ken have gone and whom could he have talked to about his experiences? How could Sylvia Plath have used her gifts without them killing her in the end? How can the thousands of people in our culture who are suffering from mental and emotional distress get some genuine support, some help, some respect?

How can we turn our mental health centers into places of healing and growth, rather than confinement and apathy? How can we nurture the experiences of people who are perceiving differently from us in such a way that they can become stable and we can become wiser for having taken their perspective?

How can we all come together and build the sort of society that Dr. Somé speaks of, the sort of society that already exists somewhere—one that respects people, no matter what they act, look, or feel like?

Most importantly, how can we take mental illness activism past this stage it’s stuck at now where we say “it’s not like cancer, don’t say get over it” but the ones who go through it still suffer, still perceive it all as “bad”, still face a lower quality of life? Basically, how can we stop treating these experiences as diseases and start accepting them as gifts?

How can we recognize the healers in those who are, themselves, healing?

How can we all come together and make a world where we connect from our deepest core, from our interconnected, limitless potential? How can we learn to see beyond differences of habit and thought into the beautiful center that resides within each of us?

How can the scientists, the spiritualists, the philosophers, and the dancers all come together and speak of their unique perspectives, each learning from the other? How can the manic, the depressed, the bored, the generous, and the needy come together, dropping their labels, and learn from each other?

How can each human life be allowed to matter? How can we build a world where no one has to rot in a hospital or a cage? How can we build a world where everyone simply wants to be good and do good? How can we stop arguing, for a second, so that we can hear ourselves agreeing?

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t. But this is not really about answers. This is about questions.

I read in an old book once: “Confusion is the beginning of wisdom.”

Not knowing is the beginning of knowing.

And that’s what this is all about. This is about asking, and continuing to ask, until we make it work. This is about standing up and pointing out that the current state of our mental “health” care is not human, it’s mechanistic. As we’ve seen in cases like Ken’s, it’s cruel. And, as we’ve seen in cases like Robin Williams, it doesn’t work.

I hope no one takes this personally, because even if you’re working every day to support the system and doing your best, you are not the system. None of us are the system. There is no system. There’s only us—human beings—doing our best.

Our inability to think differently about mental illness no one’s fault, but it is our responsibility. We can all come together and decide to do better. We deserve it.

Your ideas on this are welcome. That’s where it all starts—brainstorming and sharing. You’re invited to do so below in the comments section.

 

(Photo by Erin)

Rethinking Mental Illness: Are We Drugging Our Prophets and Healers?


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42 More Comments

  • August 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. Found myself saying so many times I thought about that or somebody else feels the way or thinks the way I’ve been thinking and feeling. How wonderful.

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    • August 31, 2014 at 2:09 pm
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      Your comment gives me unspeakable joy, Bette. It is this sort of response precisely that I hope to elicit in people. I hope to speak those thoughts we think are private and make them into a worldwide conversation. Thank you for your gratitude, my friend.

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    • March 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm
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      This was a very beautiful article it really made me think. Last year I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it took me by surprise. The weeks before I was diagnosed I was on a spiritual high and I just see things in the spiritual realm like I’ve never been able to see before. I knew about people’s lives and their struggles without them telling me and I could hear the voice of God so clear. It was AMAZING! I knew it was a gift and I knew that I wasn’t crazy or delusional. I knew in my heart that it was a prophetic gift and that it should be respected and nurtured and if I learn how to control it, it can be an amazing tool to heal the world. Thanks for posting this article. It is really made my day a lot better and it has helped me to see that I’m not the only one who sees the blessing in so-called mental illnesses. THANKS VIRONIKA!

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      • March 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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        Wow, John, what a wonderful outlook! Yes, you are blessed. I agree with that. I know how it is, too. I think part of the reason that I’ve suffered the way I have is my hormones. I still continue to fluctuate quite severely on this front and it’s always up to me to channel these energies into creativity, into self-reflection, into physical activity, into nature. It’s like juggling hot potatoes. It’s hell to learn, but once you manage it, you’re part of this unique selection of people who can do this magnificent thing. It’s a gift, really. Sending you gratitude for all that you are and all you’ve learned.

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  • August 31, 2014 at 12:03 am
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    Very interesting! I really don’t know what to say. I need to let this sink in. Thanks for bring this issue out into the open.

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    • August 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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      I think many people have felt that way, Sandra. I was surprised, at first, at how many people had viewed the piece without commenting. Then, I asked a few of them and their answers were just like yours. I suppose it reinforces what I’ve written above: it’s asking the questions we need to do right now. That’s what’s important. If we stop forgetting about this and make it important, the answers will come.

      Thank you for taking the time to ask, my friend 🙂

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  • August 31, 2014 at 6:28 am
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    I think art as a medium for self expression will bridge understanding. We are already conditioned as a society to see Art as a limitless sphere, with no boundaries and labels. Artists continually push existing boundaries, challenging our perceptions and worldviews. When it comes to Art, we expect the unexpected. I think Art is a good place to start, where ‘psychotic’ is expressed and others can use their art works as a platform for discussion and understanding. Personally, i am a highly visual person and when i have conflicts with others… Ive found it immensely easier to simply draw out how i feel and explain to them through visual diagrams etc.

    Art is also a personal creation and it helps the artist to feel proud of their work, even if no one else appreciates it. They feel proud because they created something that represents their authentic self and that itself is cause for celebration, an extension of self love. Therefore, people wont feel like they are being judged because their art exists solely as their own creation and their own happiness.

    I did not take time to organize my thoughts so this might sound slightly messy. But its the first thing that came to my mind and i felt like i needed to comment before it faded away.

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    • August 31, 2014 at 2:12 pm
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      Your thoughts are beautiful, Melissa! I agree with you. I actually felt that way about The Love Mindset and Ken did about his book – like we had to get it out to deal with the things we spoke about within. It’s very interesting that you say this, because I think it’s incredibly true.

      By allowing ourselves to channel our absurdity in a sphere that is permitted to be absurd, we can avoid the negative labels. The question is – how can we build a society that allows such things? Many people would fear the creative psychotic and insist on his being drugged, to hell with his art.

      I wonder if the beauty of such art wouldn’t allude those who push for the system to continue to be in place. Perhaps these people need their own type of art too? The kind of art that reminds you that, no matter how safe you think you are in your temporary form – you’re just as chaotic and human as the rest of us, you’re going to die, and that’s okay 🙂

      I didn’t organize those thoughts either, so forgive my feeding the mess. What a beautiful mess it is.

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  • August 31, 2014 at 8:29 pm
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    For as frustratingly backwards the current approach to dealing with mental illness is, being able to have this conversation is a sign change is already underway, if even at a snail’s pace. More and more people are speaking up. Examples of what is possible are being brought to the mainstream. Cracks are forming in the walls that have kept mental illness compartmentalized and in the shadows.

    Vironika, you are a bright light shining on what needs changing so we can’t ignore answering these important questions any longer. You see a way far too many others can’t, or won’t. Thank you for leading the way into the unknown.

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    • August 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm
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      You have a beautiful way with words, Lorraine. I feel you’ve paid my work a loving tribute with your response. I feel honoured to have you on my side. So much love to you. ♥

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  • September 1, 2014 at 2:43 am
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    Dear Veronika,
    Yet again you have written so beautifully about something many of the “normal” people and the mental healthcare system, refuse to see. I think if we ask non-clairvoyant people to help these budding prophets and healers, they will only look for what is “wrong” with them and try to fix the other person. These people can be helped by people who are already clairvoyant and by those who have become aware of what needs to be done to help these people! You are definitely doing a great work spreading awareness about this. Keep up the good work.

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    • September 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm
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      It’s funny you mention clairvoyance, Sushmita. I say, above, in the article that I have a hard time with Dr. Some’s explanations for mental illness. I have an equally hard time with clairvoyance. That is just my academic upbringing in a house of doctors speaking. And I do want to bring attention to the fact that, just because I don’t passionately believe in everything that other people believe, that does not give me the right to restrict their access to what they want or they ability to communicate about it. I think, at the end of the day, this is the most important part: to allow our common humanity to come before our need to prove the correctness of our beliefs.

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  • September 1, 2014 at 4:46 am
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    I’m from Italy and from this perspective I have to say US are really heavy handed with psychiatric drugs, even with children, which for me it is just intolerable. I find myself doing this kind of reflections from a very long time and I am very upset at your health system because what it is considered normal in the mighty US is going to become a new standard in Europe in a few years, and we can see the rise of the use of mental drugs in this very few years.
    Personally, I read your article with a sense of instinctive fear, because everybody, everyone of us could go through a moment in his/her life of mental confusion and the lack of real support and the abundance of labels, fingers pointed and judgement could cost more than a life. I do not like to feel fear of course but even if I embrace it, a sense of concern is still alive in me.
    Just one question: aren’t we all potential prophets and healers? because read as you wrote it, it seems like the “system” puts the ones diagnosed with mental disease on a different, in this case lower, level from the “normal” people, but calling them prohets or healers aren’t you doing the same? Aren’t those just another kind of label that keeps us far from feel the connection we have and stimulates judgement?

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    • September 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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      Thank you for sharing, Michela! You know, while I was in Italy some years ago, I ran into a protest against medicating children with psychoactive drugs. I have always, since then, had an image of Italy as standing up for human beings and natural solutions over medications, and I am sad to hear that, one day, that might be washed away by American culture. Here in Canada, the change has already happened long ago.

      I do think we are all potential prophets and healers, yes. Within, we are all full of the same boundless potential. If we should choose to use that potential to serve humankind through direct work, then we may do that. Our access to fulfilling that potential should be as boundless as the potential itself. I am not saying those who don’t have a diagnosed mental illness are not gifted, they are. They are just simply allowed to carry out their gifts, while those who are given labels are not.

      Beyond that, I think those who are struck with a profound division within them have the opportunity to experience a unity so powerful that they will experience more of that potential than the average human being. This is just the nature of things – a pendulum that swings to the right must swing back to the left full force. That is why I bring special attention to those divided, within, against themselves. They need support to get re-connected without stigma so that they may experience the full range of human experience, as they have the opportunity to.

      Thank you for the engaging discussion, my friend.

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  • September 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm
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    Well done! There is definitely a surge of energy rising around the treatment of people going through a “shamanic crisis” or a “spiritual emergence.” We absolutely have to discuss this more and more to arrive at a vernacular and set of tools to guide people through to the other side. Once on the other side, these people give the culture they live in GIFTS, awareness, and the spiritual technology to move forward.

    I just wrote about my ‘break’ 14 years ago and am working on a book…simply to add fuel to the fire of awareness growing around this topic. I would absolutely love for you to read it and share your thoughts ~ http://madhupamaypop.com/2014/08/10/i-was-born-to-do-this/

    We were born to do this.

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    • September 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm
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      Thank you for sharing your story, Lindsay. Thank you for being out there in the world sharing and loving and giving. May your words inspire and move many!

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  • September 2, 2014 at 5:26 am
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    Thank you Vironika for your answer and sorry, I didn’t know you lived in Canada! I write once again, in particular after having read Lindsay reply and again I have a strong feeling: aren’t we going from an extreme to another? I do not have the intent to diminish the importance of recovering a deep personal crisis, but I do find not so healthy the fact that the healing process should determine your future life, not every personwho heals a personal crisis is going to be the next Jung.
    I think the whole healing process is covered with sensationalism, too much emphasis, that could also cause excessive expectation in the reader, especially if he or she is experimenting healing in a softer way. It is a very western like tendency of searching for success in any case… while I think it is all a matter of love and true love is not that loud, it is private and intimate. I hope you got my words right and i thank you for this space of discussion.

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    • September 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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      I appreciate your discussion, Michela! And, of course, remember to take all my opinions with a grain of salt. It is only my viewpoint. And here is my take on it…

      In order to balance, we DO need to go from one extreme to the other before we can find homeostasis. We must allow that process to happen naturally without judging it. That is the natural way of things. That is how things become centered – like a see-saw or a pendulum. It swings left hard, then right hard, then left middle, right middle, then center. All we do by expecting balance right away is keep it from moving at all, suspending it in the air, keeping the natural flow of things from occurring.

      I do not think we need to sensationalize each mentally distressed person, but we do need to make their experience into a positive, transformative one.

      Those who are in mental distress are like caterpillars trapped in their cocoons. They struggle and struggle, knowing no way to get out. Coming to them and telling them stories of butterflies to soothe and encourage them is not harmful – it’s beautiful.

      At the end of the day, I believe human beings are sensational. I think we all have an incredible power within us and that our modern-day society is not conducive to our exploring that power. I am an advocate for exploring the love within us on every level for everyone, including those in mental distress, and the reason I think mentally distressed people have more of an opportunity to explore it is because the status quo is not working out for them.

      I believe the hamster wheel, rat race isn’t good for anyone, but those who have already fallen off are closer to getting out of it than those who continue to affirm their allegiance to it. There is a huge oppression of the human spirit in this part of the world and, if we must polarize momentarily to overemphasizing the importance of that spirit in order to, eventually, balance out to a healthy medium, than this is perfectly normal.

      Again, this is the way I see the world. I see nature as a spiral, constantly becoming aware of itself, cycling through ebbs and flows. The most important thing, in my eyes, is to recognize ourselves as something beyond that dualistic nature and something greater. I call that nature love. You may call it something else. In the end, it is a cure not only for mentally distressed people, but for all of us.

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      • September 3, 2014 at 4:08 am
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        Thank you Vironika for your clarity, the fact is I have always had a similar Weltanschauung but also a constant fear that keeps me at a distance from it,from fully embracing it, and in my keeping a distance from extremes I still can sense that fear. Thank you for your commitment my friend, it really counts.

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        • September 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm
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          Wow, Weltanschauung. I’m mesmerized by that word. It’s almost like a hero inside your mind who is sitting on the bench while the tyrant sends off fearful thoughts. I have these images of your Weltanschauung coming to life, taking you in its arms, and carrying you away to a happier place. I wonder if that personification sounds strange or inspiring to you. 🙂

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          • September 4, 2014 at 5:57 am
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            You made me laugh and cry at once, not only I can see the Weltanschauungas as my true self, but I can also see that Tyrant taking a well known shape, making it easier to trust our superhero (the problem is, it doesn’t last long!) 😉 Thanks

          • September 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm
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            🙂 You are welcome! Thank you for being so open, Michela.

      • December 15, 2014 at 6:17 am
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        “Those who are in mental distress are like caterpillars trapped in their cocoons. They struggle and struggle, knowing no way to get out.” True, oh so very true indeed! I started seeing a pediatric nurse when I was about 12-13 yrs old bc of my overwhelming mental state. I was depressed, lacked ability to concentrate(although in art class I was able to focus on the task at hand), felt obscure and out of place always longing to be in another place that I wasn’t quite aware of. I was tested for a.d.d and depression and referred to a licensed psychiatrist for possible “major depressive disorder”. At 14,I was put on adderral and Zoloft. At 15,I experienced my first true”manic episode”. (If I remember,i went off my anti depressant/mood stabilizer cold turkey without my docs knowledge) I was up for 5 days straight, amped on stress and my mind racing more and more with each day awake..then I snapped, had a mini meltdown(today,I believe it to have been an awakening), I broke down in tears and had an extremely hard time keeping my composure for the next two days. Strangest thing though,I remember having a great epiphany and sputtering to my mother of how everyone has a degree of suffering we just need to be kind, accept; not judge,love and help one another to our best capabilities. When I told my psychiatrist about what I described as my”mental breakthrough of how people of the world should be to another to allow each other to thrive positively. I was not too long after officially diagnosed as Bi polar with a.d.d and I have been prescribed an incredible array of drugs from lithium to topamax to lamictal to lexapro to wellbutrin to Zoloft,etc. I am no longer on any pharmaceuticals.
        I thank you from the bottom of my heart through and through for this article as It has been the reassurance I am not crazy…not even crazy for believing that for other people I can “take it away” in reference to healing an ache or ailment…

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        • December 15, 2014 at 6:22 am
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          Sorry if my response is kind of hard to follow,I just am overwhelmed with so much to say but I thank you again for this contentment I am experiencing in knowing I’m not a psycho, nor crazy…

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          • December 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm
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            Wow Maggie. Don’t apologize! Your story is so beautiful. You are not crazy, you are beautiful. You are, finally, in touch with the part of you that connects you to everything and everyone. That is a modern-day miracle. Listen to that voice. Let your healing make you a healer. We are all lucky to have you here with us. Sending you all my love and warmth. Please stay in touch!

  • September 3, 2014 at 4:02 am
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    I love this post Vironika. I suffer from anxiety and OCD and medication has been suggested to me several times before. I have always resisted though. And so I battle on. Some days I feel ok and others I feel horrible. But I have struggled with these since I was 11. I would love an answer but I’m not sure it exists.

    Thank you for talking about this. I’ve thought about this before myself, how so many wonderful people from times past would be medicated and locked away had they lived now. It is a sad state of affairs.

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    • September 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm
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      I love your openness to this, Michaela! I actually love working with anxiety and OCD, if you can believe that. I find these easiest to help people with, since they are largely based on toxic thought patterns I’m intimately familiar with. To step back from these and watch them is a difficult, but fascinating and healing, experience. I have a bit more trouble with depression, although thoughts are the culprits here too, simply because I don’t have as intimate of an understanding of exactly what those thoughts are and how stepping back from them feels. In the end, I hope you’ll take some time to develop mind-care routines. These will help you immensely and you deserve to feel better!

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  • November 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm
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    I have been on so many different medication since I was 13. There is nothing, really not one kind that doctors didn’t try on me. Now I take only 3 different anti depressants and I would love to stop. I just don’t have the support I need. I’m scared of doing it alone.

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    • November 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm
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      It’s incredible that you can be so honest about it, Nicole. I think that is the first step. And I don’t think anyone should ever have to do it alone, especially if they feel they cannot. Reach out for help if you need it – there are plenty of people willing to offer real, human, look you in the eye and be there for you, and cry with you support.

      I always refer people to this incredible group on Facebook that I volunteer lots of time to on Facebook that seeks to provide people with peer support for “Spiritual Emergency”. It’s based on a similar model to the above, though of course a bit different since it’s the internet. I can send you the link over Facebook, if you’d like it. I think you’d enjoy it there 🙂

      Reply
  • October 8, 2015 at 10:35 am
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    I am a shaman priest healer who has been undergoing a powerful and at times overwhelming initiation into the ways of the Nagual. I am led in spirit to break away from habitual patterns and focus on myself in each moment. I suffer from mental health system. It is a serious disorder where you can’t be yourself and everybody accidentally forces you into feeling suppressed and without hope of being free. They pushed me into taking drugs and made me live a lifestyle that is antithecal to my shamanic lifestyle that included fasting, chanting and standing on my head. If I were my true self in the space of mental hospital, I would have never been released I feel like! This country is in such dire need of healing. We need healers now more than ever, but our education and mental health system weakens and mentally imprisons the many would-be shamans and oracles, keeping our world at large away from social freedom and true life expressed wholesomely. We must be free, create intimacy, healing and compassion are what we need, understanding and spiritual guidance must come to the US! WE need a spiritual revolution so badly now! I weep for the world because of how lost in social fear and mental slavery we have become collectively. So, everywhere you go, be a little more outgoing, please. Be a little less habitual and be more unique. It changes the world much more than you know. The uniqueness and creativity of the oracular healers are the qualities that we all must aspire to having. Spread light open hearts make good. peace.

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    • October 8, 2015 at 9:07 pm
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      Thank you for sharing your experience, Nagala. I hope that the peace you wish for the world is always in your own heart.

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  • October 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm
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    Hi Veronica,

    I often struggle with feelings of despair about how our society ignores the traumas it inflicts upon us all, and then often add new traumas in the attempts made to help.

    Two weeks ago I attended my first training on “Intentional Peer Support”. I left feeling excited for the future.

    Are you familiar with IPS?

    http://www.intentionalpeersupport.org

    Cheers,

    Scott

    Reply
  • October 12, 2015 at 3:23 am
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    Hi Vironika, I just want to say your article is inspiring!
    I went into the field of psychology to help people and after years of studying I have realised that it has done very little to help anyone. Those who are different are condemned to a life on drugs that take away the very characteristics that make them human. This world and the people in it have so much more to offer and psychologists instead of listening and supporting them, fear them.
    I am anything but normal and know that if given the right circumstances these people classified as “mentally ill” could rise up and change our world for the better.
    Therefore I realise that my path to being a psychologist is not to carry on and accept the same old way of thinking, that has never worked. It is to use my abilities and the spiritual awakening we are going through to find a new way of helping these amazing individuals.
    My goal is to create healing homes that allow people to express themselves without fear of being restrained and rejected.
    I want them to find themselves and their meaning in this world by being somewhere safe, full of love, laughter nature and animals.
    I believe alternative therapies such as music therapy, animal-assisted therpay etc is the way forward.
    Humankind can progress in unimaginable ways once we let go of fear and embrace the magical unknown possibilities.
    Thank you!

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    • October 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm
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      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Daniella! Never lose this amazing attitude. I hope you stay in touch with me and let me know how your journey unfolds. The world needs more people like you!

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      • October 16, 2015 at 3:03 am
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        Thank you for your kind words Vironika! I will definitely keep you updated on my progress and have joined your Love Tribes South Africa group.

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  • March 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm
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    “Mental illness is a dream so bad that, if you’re lucky or well-supported, you might just realize you’re dreaming and wake up in a world where everyone else is still asleep.”

    This is probably the, singularly, most powerful phrase I have ever felt uttered.

    Reply
    • March 18, 2016 at 4:27 am
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      Thank you, Ian. Your gratitude has made these words hit me again, more powerfully than they did when I first wrote them. Isn’t it funny how that happens? Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

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  • May 21, 2016 at 5:53 am
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    this the most unbelievable thing i’ve ever read. and i don’t mean i don’t believe it. i mean it’s absolutely incredible. i’ve been battling with this for years. im currently surrounded by an environment that is constantly numb because it’s basically a machine. but i’m around different types of people, thought processes, and spiritualities however, the latter seems to be non existent based off of this environment. it’s probably the single most depressing thing to watch on a daily basis. i’ve been a victim for years of believing in more than what i see and thinking about things in a way that most people admit they don’t believe in. they make these drugs to numb the so-called “extra” thoughts and beliefs. but my honest question is: What is the goal? do they really make these drugs to numb people so much from these “extra” thoughts so that they just breathe until they don’t? i mean i have had some deep conversations with some people about how there’s more to this world than what we see everyday and some believe me to a degree. but even those people i catch myself hiding behind boundaries. and of course, others think i’m a complete lunatic and that you just work until you die and then the cycle continues with minimal bliss. this article is reminding me that there are people out there who are extraordinary and are lucky enough to have persevered through the judgment and/or endured the punishment of being institutionalized and now live magnificent and full lives, humble lives helping others and are actually at peace and are free spirits. that is magical. this article makes me know there are people who believe in this and understand that these are not disorders but extremely special people who understand the full meaning of spirit and life. thank you for this. if no one recognizes you for your work, just know i appreciate it.

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    • May 25, 2016 at 11:45 am
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      I am glad that this piece spoke so deeply to you, Joe. I have encountered so many people, after publishing this, who are isolated, and that is a great shame. I’ve also encountered many people who violently oppose what they think I am saying (often through misunderstanding), so I definitely appreciate your kind words. This has been going on long before we were born, and it will undoubtedly continue. All that any of us can do is share our voices. I hope that you, too, will continue to do the same.

      Reply

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