Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sun worshippers

So, there are a multitude of virgin birth creation myths in our human history but Jesus’ birth is the one true one? Right. That makes A LOT of sense. How can we Christians lay claim to the one truth? When others wrote the story first? When that story, that way forces us to deny so much about us that we are born knowing. When that story teaches us that worship of an external God is the only way. When that story teaches us to loathe our humanness and fear hell from day one. When that way loves us conditionally all of our lives. Think people.

We ridicule those “poor, brutish, heathen beasts” who worshipped the sun millennia ago. How naïve and unevolved we say. How ignorant and base and backward. To pay tribute to a “false god.” Well at least you can see the sun every day. You know it exists. You can count on it rising and setting every day. You can count on it for food, for survival. It awakens and warms our soul. You know for a fact it sustains us and breathes life into all of the earth. You marvel at it; it exceeds your expectations. And it expects absolutely nothing from you.

The native tribes had it right. But we tell those tribes to stop worshipping that which they know and begin worshipping a hidden, faceless, amorphous judge of a God. Think people, think. We are extinguishing those beautiful cultures in the name of conversion to a certain faith, a faith that lays claim to the one “true” virgin birth myth when scores of other, older religions established the myth. Right, that makes a LOT of sense.

The multitude of virgin birth myths confirms to me that all religions have threads of truth, threads of what makes sense to us, threads of good. Some of the common themes to all religions are good and true. But not all of them. We can pull the best from them and discard the crap, the crap that twists and tangles us. The crap that leaves us doubting and confused, frustrated and broken. The crap that has led us to flush out these aboriginal peoples.

For centuries, or millennia, we have told these tribes that in order to accept Jesus (and have him accept you) they must swear off their own indigenous faith altogether. Here’s an example:

Debbie Freeman, minister from Little Rock, came to speak to the Presbyterian Women about mission work with the Lacondon Indians in Chiapas Mexico. She said that about 40 years ago the Presbyterian missionaries brought Christianity to the indigenous direct descendants of the Mayans. I asked Debbie what religion they had before Christianity. She said they didn’t have one; then she said no, they had the Mayan religion, which was “very native, very primitive, very brutish, it involved human sacrifice.” (her words). I asked how the Lacondon Indians married Presbyterianism with the Mayan religion, the Mayan culture, and she said they don’t. They had to forego or swear off or turn their backs on their Mayan religion completely to take on Christianity. It was a prerequisite of “receiving Christ” (my words). The anthropologist in me cried. These Presbyterians are not missionaries, that’s just a PC word for crusaders. Sent to obliterate the local religion and culture. And that's not the whole story; they are also clearcutting jungle to build big churches. Again, my heart wept. We have to preserve what’s left of the Mayan descendants’ culture. Natives are being flushed out by Religion all across the globe. It’s why I cannot waste anymore time. Why the time for me is now. We need to change course quickly.

Think people, think. How many of these cultures are still left on earth? We are extinguishing them. It’s too late for so many of them. But we can arrest the slaughter of their truth. We can stop RIGHT NOW.

When I say “we” are extinguishing these cultures, I mean Christianity is extinguishing them, but I also mean Western Jingoism. Our government has adopted Christianity as a way to justify the beat down and destruction of others. Just like all governments before us. A government is biological, an organism, it has Darwinistic survival needs like everything else. Needs to devour other countries, other people. So it may “flourish.” The red Communist Sherwin Williams paint can, spilling over all of Europe. Religion is the same way. We are naïve if we don’t appreciate this. Since religion was created by us, it is obvious that it is a biological beast, and that it feeds voraciously on threats to its survival. It’s the old way, the old establishment, the old order. It’s the wrong way to live in heaven. And the beast is in the sunset of its life.

But don’t get scared! Post-religion does not mean to ditch your current faith. I do not want anyone to swear off their religions. At all! On the contrary, I am not crusading, I don’t need converts. Please let humans be done with crusades, for now and forever. I love what you think is truth. If your religion, or any parts of it, resonate in your heart and make you feel good….go with it! Parse the good and the bad and be your own God, be your own “theo-logy.” (from the Latin, “God-science”). You must have confidence to believe in what works best for you spiritually. And confidence to say “I don’t believe what you believe. It’s fine that you believe differently than me, but mine is just perfect for me, thank you very much.” Love yourself that much. Stop being one of the faceless flock…..start being your own shepherd.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Damn the crusaders, put down the sword

There are many diverse religions out there. Because we all need something to believe in, whether it’s a God or the sun or a fruit fly, or even that you don’t believe in anything. It’s why 6 major world religions cannot possibly suit us all. There is not one size fits all. Religion is not the only truth.

Truth is about what you feel, each of you individually. It’s what you know is true in your heart, not what you read about or are taught. Trying to convince people to believe something they don’t feel is not truth, it’s futility. At best it is sisyphean. At worst, it’s a bloodthirsty crusade. Billions have been slaughtered in religious wars, in wars in which enemies have forced 100% adherence to a faith even they had doubts about.

We all have doubts, it is the natural state of things. Ironically, some say doubt proves faith. But soldiers who are ordered to crusade for a doubt-filled faith are the most dangerous kind. Fighting to the death over something you don’t fully believe in is an ill-fated commission, a tragic scourge. An endless battle.
The sabre of blind faith rattles loudly and there is no satisfaction of its thirst for blood, for validation, or for company in its misery. Religious conversion at knifepoint yields a confused and fractious and fearful flock.

The crusaders tell you to believe. If you don’t quite believe it all, they tell you to believe harder. If you still don’t believe, they tell you to have faith, belief will come. My God, I still don’t get it, you say. We forgive you for being so stupid and graceless, we know you will come around eventually and we are praying for you and for your sake hope you finally get it before you die. Best of luck! Have faith! Our brains are screaming at the illogic of it all. This blind faith. The faith that never grants a reward in this life. The faith that never lets you touch or see or hear your God. The utterly unattainable, utterly unsatisfying quest. It does not make sense to the trinity or our hearts, brains and bodies. It’s why we can still argue about every single line of the bible to this day. It is just that: an argument. A prayer of a shot, lobbed from half court. A riddle that leaves us breathless and tormented and frayed at the edges and hostile to those around us. That leaves us racing around in that damn maze. That keeps us veiled.

As I look up at the stars above Fayetteville, I think how comforting it must have been for ancient people to look up and see the stars. You knew they were true, they were real. They were predictable. And they were bigger than all of us. We didn’t need an imagined religion. We had a perfect order in the universe, in the nature of things. “Religion” as we know it today just disordered what we knew. Created chaos. Created anger and pain and fear, while at the same time tantalizing us with abiding hope. The paradox.

I'm slicing through the dogma and the dictates and rescuing God from religion. He is greater than a book or a prayer or a creed or a commandment...he is you, and you are phenomenal.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A problem concept

I'll start to dissect Christianity and tell you what either makes no sense to me or what really hacks me off.

Let’s take sin and forgiveness, two manufactured Christian concepts.

There is no such thing as sin. We are not born sinners. Or born with a stain. We invented that concept. We do bad things. It’s part of being human. There is no need for us to be “perfect”. God thinks we are all perfect exactly as we are, flaws and all. I see we are all perfect, all of us, all the time. We are totally divine, but in a human body. Sure we may do bad things, out of fear of not being loved, but it is all perfection, it is all on purpose. Doing bad things is not a sin against God, no more so than a child pushing another child down is a sin against the parent. It is just sad for the parent. God aches with divine pain to see us hurt each other because he knows we are born only loving. He knows we will be overcome by heaven where there will be no pain, no hurt. But he has to wait for us to figure it out. We are figuring it out. I am one voice in a million who is figuring it out right now as you read this.

There is no need for the words forgiveness or atonement. There is nothing to forgive. Our humanity, our shortcomings have all already been contemplated. We were made this way, and nobody (God) expects us to be different, better, more perfect. We created the concept of forgiveness as a coping mechanism for the horrific concept of sin. Christianity wrote the original sin into our story. It told us we are born sinners. We torture ourselves with the hell that is sin and then offer forgiveness as a grossly inadequate lifeline.

We give our transgressions epic connotations and then hope to ease the enormous guilt we feel about sin by offering forgiveness. We made our actions seem unbelievably evil, we labeled them sins against the God who loves us more than anyone can imagine, a God who knows no sin. Then we needed a place in our mind to put that sin so we wouldn’t kill ourselves with remorse every time we “sinned.” We sweep these epic sins under the rug with Forgiveness. We created the concept of forgiveness because our brains were horrified and woefully underequipped to deal with the concept of original sin.

But like I said, Forgiveness is inadequate to battle the concept of sin. It is a facile and tidy antidote we created to a scathing chronic illness we also created. The antidote, so quick and easy and painless, with no side effects, bears no comparison to the weight of the “disease”.

We know this, we know forgiveness does not ring true. The way Christians have defined it is not a human ability. We feel anger and suspicion and disappointment and jealousy and bitterness and resentment. Those are normal and natural and human. Sweeping those feelings all out of your mind with forgiveness is not normal. It’s really quite unhealthy, and explains why the Western world is so sick right now, as a collective body. We suffer national depression because we constantly repress how we truly feel about someone hurting us, because we think we are supposed to forgive. “To forgive divine.” Exactly, it expects behavior that we can never attain in this human life. Again, it is an impossible standard set forth by Christianity.

So what do we do instead? What do we say when someone says “I am sorry” in lieu of saying I forgive you? In lieu of patronizing them and martyring yourself? You say Thank you, it makes me feel better to know you are sorry. What you did hurt me. Don’t do it again.

How about instead of granting forgiveness for these eviscerating sins, we just banish original sin? Instead of continually apologizing for transgressions labeled so horrific that our brains cannot process the scale, why not remove the stain. The stain that never was. We just take it out of our lexicon, out of our brains. We unteach it. Unlearn it. We go back to the beginning. We are as clean of sin as the dumb beasts, as ignorant of sin as Adam and Eve pre-fall if you need a biblical analogy. We realize that simple bad behavior, which Christianity has aggrandized into “sin” is an outgrowth of not being loved enough and of fearing we fail to meet God’s expectations. We remove the fatalistic connotation for doing bad, human things. This comes part and parcel with learning to receive unconditional love and then loving all of yourself.

In one grand editorial of Jesus’ death on the cross, Christianity told us all we are born sinners. Just as easily, we can realize this is just not true. There is nothing to forgive. The tragic irony is that in your heart, you know this to be true, you have always known this to be true. You know what has been preached for so long, the concept that you are born with the stain of original sin, is pure fabrication. It never had to happen.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post script

I just feel it necessary to clarify....when I express consternation or frustration with Christianity, it is with the crusading Church, and those who bastardize God's love. I am realizing my problem is not with God at all, but with the way some of us over the centuries have defined the deity and the narrow path we must take to find him. So you will see anger with the institution in this blog....don't take it personally, unless of course you are an author of the fear and manipulation industry yourself.

Eat Pray Love

Some books electrify me....

One of creative expression that calls out to me is found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. She journeys around the world seeking truth, peace, and joy. There are parts of this book that positively exhilarated me because I have felt what she did, I have seen the Nirvana that she experienced. It’s not some bizarre carnival ride in my brain, it’s a place that others yearn for and some have actually found.

She talks of Turiya, a Hindu concept, which is the “elusive fourth level of human consciousness.” It is a state of observation of all levels of your consciousness, a God’s eye view of yourself. If you can find this fourth level, you can be with God all the time. Gilbert says you know you have reached Turiya when you are in a state of constant bliss. Some descriptors are pure, clean, eternal, tranquil, and most important to me, “abiding in your own greatness.” Gilbert states that the great prophets and saints were living in Turiya all the time. She adds that many of us have had brief glimpses of Turiya. In those moments you are “stirred by grace, swollen with wonder, overflowing with bliss.” These moments are elusive and unexplained, and we all search for ways to live in Turiya permanently. Gilbert comments that we have tried any number of ways to preserve Turiya, from sex and drugs to power and adrenaline. Those who follow the Yogic path seek it through meditation. (196-7)

Gilbert then says that perfection, bliss, Turiya, is within all of us, all the time. That is what I have found. When I am manic, I live in Turiya. I go within myself. It is a fourth level or a fourth dimension. I become bliss, I become Love, I become God. I finally recognize and welcome the divinity within me. I know all of me, love all of me, and fear nothing. As mania has come and gone over the years, I have been able to wear away at the learned fear. I began to see the crusading Christian construct of fear for what it is: ludicrous, manufactured, overblown, entrenched yet tenuous, a true Wizard of Oz, dancing in the shadows of self-doubt and misplaced faith, tormenting us by day and haunting us by night. By banishing the fear I started to knit pieces of heaven into the patchwork of my daily life, so the flashing glimpses of Turiya appear with greater frequency. The hope I have is that I can get back to Turiya or heaven on earth, not through mania, but through you. With you. With all of us.

Gilbert paints the picture of heaven as others have felt it. The yogi Ketut Liyer reports that it is “gold color everywhere, even inside me.” In heaven, I saw the same unstoppable waves of golden love, pouring through and from and into all of us. The man continues that “This gold color is God, who inside me. Same thing that is God is same thing inside me. Same-same.” Exactly. Same-same. We are God, he is us. Same-same. (233)

When Gilbert asks Liyer what Heaven is like, he responds “Beautiful. Everything beautiful is there. Everything beautiful to eat is there. Everything is love there. Heaven is love.”

All of these descriptions are dead on. She describes where I have been, and where I hope to go again, with all of you.

Gilbert reports that for one spiritual sage, being in Heaven with God is “like two fat men living in a small boat---we keep bumping into each other an laughing.” That is exactly the fun and familiarity I find with God when I am in heaven. He is my best friend. We get each other’s jokes. We find the other hilarious. We cluck around like happy hens. When you know that God is you, that he is the best and worst of you and everything in between, you just laugh with such relief. Such an exhale. It is like we have been crying for God, lamenting in tears that he has left us and that we are lost and that we need him to be with us, and then he finds us, we walk out of the maze into his arms, and we let out a huge exhausted shudder when the tears have been wiped away. Our joy at the reunion is matched by his; he has come home too.

The final section of Gilbert’s book that vibrated within my heart tracks God talking to the author when she is at her most hopeless and desperate. God’s voice says:

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it----I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”

Now this is what we all long to hear from God. But when I read that, I was manic and in heaven, and I was riddled with a love for other human beings so profound and pervasive that the weight of it brought me to tears. These words were mine to you. This was what I longed to say to each of you, what I still long to say to you. It’s how much I love you when I am in heaven….or really, all the time, but when not in heaven, I sometimes get scared to say it. I am afraid of what you will think of me if I say it, but I feel it nonetheless.

As I now read these words again, I realize that we long to hear that from each of us, and we will. But I also see that this is me talking to myself too. Because in heaven I am God, I am my best friend, protector, and comforter. I love myself just as Gilbert’s God loves her, and as soon as I allow myself to do that, I expand with that same love for you too. I cannot help but love with God-love.

So Gilbert has had quite an awakening. Her books resonated with all of us, because she describes the ultimate relationship with God. She got a glimpse of our life as it should and will be. We have all felt it too, and we are excited. I am thrilled to think heaven is just around the corner, but I am twice as delighted to be sharing that good news with you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dimension travel

This is what I wrote this summer, when I was in heaven...

Nature v. Nurture argument is the same as science v. religion. They are not mutually exclusive. They are both very important and both work together to create a human mind, body and spirit. Science and faith, brain and spirit, innate knowledge and implicit love. At the top of the 360º spectrum, same/same.

Physics. Very very fast is right next to very very slow on spectrum of physics. Both are at top of circle, No absolutes. No mutual exclusivity of anything anymore. All is integrated. Dimensions are fluid in my heaven. There are no boundaries, they are like a lava lamp. There are no more axes, no straight lines. Dimensions tumbling over each other, spilling back and forth, advancing and receding in concert, in cooperation, in absolutely perfect harmony.

Heaven is real time dimension travel.

I’m in an elevated state of consciousness. Using more than 10% of my brain. Accessing so many varied centers of my brain: the love center, the memory center, the faith center, the compassion center, the empathy center, the ego center, the realism center, the existential center, the patience center, the hope center, the subliminal center, the dream center, the revelation center, the academic center, the linguistic center, the relationships center, the problem solving center, the funny center, the energy efficient center, the future time center, the multidimensional center. I know what is going to happen before it does, 80% of the time. But it’s not like I am watching a video of what is going to happen in ten minutes. It’s just that I know in ten minutes something is going to work out exactly as it should, and I delight in this knowledge and in the certainty I have that things will work right on time, right like they are supposed to. I let my life come to me, and it comes in beauty and miracles and wonder. Things I misplaced magically appear right when I need them too. This is a feat of my enhanced memory, which can recall stored visual memories and put them to use in the present when I need to apply them. It is quite remarkable. Dreams have become very useful too. I now remember most of my dreams and they are often visions for me of how to solve problems the next day. I know this happens to other people too, but it happens to me a lot more than it used to. Time for me now is not linear, it’s circular, flowing freely between past, present and future in my mind. There are not just four dimensions, there are unlimited dimensions, involving all brain centers mentioned above and many more. My brain is working fully in concert and collaboration with all of its depths, all of the dimensions. Because I believe good will happen for me, it does, I can predict it. FAITH. In myself, in the miracle of how the world works. And faith especially in others. I have become much better at listening to others and now I find that we work so well together, in friendly cooperation, eliciting wonder and delight in each of us and in how nice it is for things to work like magic between us. People are blowing my expectations away. I finally know who I am, every bit of me. I am finally understanding how the world works, and how we work, and how we will all be better. I am learning every day. While I sometimes fall back to the rat race, that’s happening less and less. I am rising more each day. I am so excited about this! I can’t wait to finish this book. I can’t wait to talk about what has happened to me, what is happening to me right now.

Note on December 22, 2010. I'm not in that heaven now. But I look back at what I wrote and marvel at that place. I hope I can feel it again. I hope I can continue to report...

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Semantics....God, Love, Me

Here's how this works; here's how we begin to graduate from God, or to come home to Him as us, however you choose to see it. Replace the word “God” with the word “Love” and then with the word “I” (meaning you, not HMC).

God loves me. Love loves me. I love me.
God made me. Love made me. I made me.
God will provide. Love will provide. I will provide.
God has a plan. Love has a plan. I have a plan.
God loves you. Love loves you. I love you.
God will protect you. Love will protect you I will protect you.
God gives me strength. Love gives me strength. I give me strength.
God knows best. Love knows best. I know best.
God never fails. Love never fails. I never fail.
God knows me. Love knows me. I know me.
God is always w/ me. Love is always w/ me. I am always w/ me.
Know God. Know Love. Know me.
Follow God. Follow Love. Follow me.
Worship God. Worship Love. Worship me.
God is love. Love is love. I am love.
Have faith in God. Have faith in Love. Have faith in me.

All of the above statements are true. God wants us to stand on our own feet. He is always there but he wants us to walk on our own. To lean on each other when we need to. God sustains you, breathes life in to you, cares for you as a parent loves a child…I do those things for you, Love does those things. Love is me. And you and you and you.

Take the power back from Him and put it where it belongs, with you. When a great NFL receiver catches the game winning touchdown, he looks skyward and says "Thank you God"...."God gave me my gifts and made that catch possible." I say NO! You worked hard for 10 hours a day for 15 years, and your trainers worked hard, and your parents and coaches worked hard, and you and your quarterback practiced time and time again, and that's WHO made it possible. The amorphous faceless timeless disembodied deity did not catch that football. You get the credit. Praise YOU. Praise all of you, all of ye Gods.

If we can all believe and live what I have seen, what I have felt, the God-love, then we will all be ministers to each other, we will all be divine, we will all fill each other up, give each other faith, love each other as God loves us, we will be walking living prophets, extensions of Him, God incarnate. Thus we will not need religion anymore. We will live post-religion. “But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” Religion is an imperfect interpretation of the God-love. It is prophecy of what will come to earth, eventually. Jesus saw it, lived it, knew it, and he tried to tell us about it, but he didn’t give it to us, he didn’t show us how to live it….he tried to, but he couldn’t. We live in a very imperfect world, and that's how I know Jesus failed. When Heaven gets here, when we all become God, the prophecies will cease. When the perfect comes to us (Heaven on Earth) the imperfect (religion) disappears.

I realize this is all semantics. When I say you graduate from God, I mean you walk into a world where you are so filled with God that He as a name and a space and a place and a person and a story disappears. You inherit him, all of him, so his Christian shell disappears. You are so complete and so all knowing and so all loving and so all bliss that you need no more external deity. So for many of you, it may be better put this way....instead of graduating from God you are born into God. You become him, he becomes you, and you put the old word "God" aside. You are cleaved no more.

We're talking about the same thing people. It's just that I have been there.

Why I stopped blogging

So I owe you an explanation for why I quit blogging.

There are times when I am inspired and purposeful and committed to the message in my writing. The message that breaks through the veil and leads us all to heaven on earth. The message that is light and truth and love, the theology that changes the game and vanquishes doubt and confusion and quibbling over whose faith is the right faith.

But then there are times when I remember that I am ill. When I look at my writing and see Russell Crowe's nonsensical rambling in A Beautiful Mind. When I say my illumination is just crazy raving. When I give up on my calling.

At these times, the dull throbbing pulse of organized Christianity----the Christmas carols and nativity scenes and Christmas cards and energy of millions of people shopping and wrapping and waiting----when all that beats like a drum in my head, like a heartbeat, and I feel drawn back into the Church. Into the safety of being in a pack of lemmings marching off a cliff. I feel drawn back into the flock and I like it for a while. It requires little effort and less thought. It's like sleeping. I don't mean to say that all of Christianity is an's just the rote, unthinking part that I can't bear.

So I stop blogging about Graduating from God and want instead to run back into His arms. I want the soft silk of the security blanket that is religion. The irresistable sound of Silent Night in a dark church. I go to Church.

Because I get tired of being the author of a new religion. Tired of standing alone and apart from the sea of lemmings. At these lonely times, I fall back into the Christian rhythm and tell myself anything counter to that is crazy.

But then I realize that when I stand outside of that pack of lemmings, I am not alone. I have Nathan. When I tell Nathan I give up on my calling to change the world, that I relent under the weight of "we do it this way because it's how we have done it for two thousand years," he says "you can't give up. You can't unring the bell. You can't unshine the light that has filled your life. Your message is not crazy. I believe in it and I believe in you and I know you can change the world if you keep at it."

I think about that for several minutes. Nathan has said before that he feels like Simon Peter, Jesus' best friend, walking by his side, lifting his spirits and offering encouragement when the prophet's road seems long and lonely. I think, what would Simon Peter have done if Jesus had looked at him and shrugged and said "My bad, just kidding, forget what I have told you. It's all nonsense...I'm tired and I give up. It's too hard. Sorry for your trouble friend, find another mission." How could he give up on those who believe in him? How could he say his revelations are nonsense when others, others who are not plagued by mental illness, say they are truth. How can I turn my back on what I have been called to do? Nathan says it's not fair and it's not right to quit now.

He's right. I've got to keep at it. The veil has been lifted for me and I cannot go back to the darkness.

I won't guarantee that I will write every day, but I won't quit either. I will continue to share my writing and I will make a difference yet.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The first love

God loves us so very much. He wants us to be happy and to enjoy our lives and each other, to utilize our personal gifts to the fullest. Nathan’s love of mechanics, solving problems, working on cars. My love of reading and writing and cooking.

God DOES NOT want us to do the above to glorify him. Or to be “like” him. God will never judge us for our works. He will never measure us by how much we emulate him. Ever. He is desperate for us to break through this mental morass and see him face to face. He can’t wait to be with us again. To be us. For us to see we are him.

HE doesn’t want you to worship or honor him. HE wants us to worship and honor love and ourselves, we who are love incarnate. I want you to believe in love too. It’s okay if you don’t. I still love you for all your Godliness, your perfection, your individuality, your longing, and your hope.

God loves us and wants us to love ourselves too. Loving yourself means facing pain at the hands of someone else and working through it with that person. Being honest and defending yourself, because who else will. Loving and knowing your beautiful self above all others. Protecting yourself, honoring your needs and desires, trusting your human instincts, not fearing “un-Christian” thoughts. Putting yourself first and loving yourself first is all worthy and worthwhile and unfortunately, it has been reviled by the Church for 2000 years. You are GOOD. Your instincts are loving. Christianity has convinced you otherwise. It has confused loving your neighbor with demoting and marginalizing yourself. Love of self is where we start. Any interpretation of God’s love that leaves that part out is incomplete. It’s the wrong way.

We “love” our neighbors above all else. Above ourselves. We think any ego based instinct or anything that honors our own feelings or wounds anyone else even for a minute is UNCHRISTIAN, bad, demonic, the work of the devil. It's not demonic, it's our birthright, it's how we are built; we are born egocentric but are taught to hate that about ourselves from birth. Jesus and the other prophets say "love your neighbor as yourself", but we forget the love yourself part. We put ourselves last, we shine our light on others first. We are taught to love others from our first breath, without practicing the most fundamental and glorious love first. Jesus said love your neighbor AS YOURSELF. Those are the two most important words in the Golden Rule. Jesus knew self-love is the first and best love...we have just forgotten, and now we treat our neighbors quite poorly. How can we possibly love them fully if we skip the first step?

God wants you to love, worship, honor yourself. To revel in your own Godness. To shine your light on yourself first so that others may warm themselves in your light. All of you is perfect and Godly, all of your behaviour is worthwhile. All of it is worthy. All of it is on purpose. All of it is part of the tidal wave that is carrying us unrelentingly toward heaven. It’s coming, believe me, it’s coming. I have been there and I see how close we are. We'll get there soon, all of us. If we can just shed the skin of selflessness and self-loathing and self-doubt. You are God and I love that about you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


So I don't have much time today....this will be a brief post.

Here's what my mom always says when trying to get me to go to church. She says "Honey, it's about being with a community, plain and simple. It's not so much about what is said in the pulpit or in the bible. Lord knows I don't believe everything that is preached. Some days only 20% of what is said I agree with, some days more. What matters is a shared experience with others."

Well this just drives me up a wall. You spend an hour each Sunday nodding obediently when you don't believe it? Church is the ONE time you are calling out to a greater spirit. You are trying to connect with what moves you, with what moves all of us. You are trying to listen to the chord your heart is playing. This is the time when 20% or even 95% does not cut it. It is just ridiculous to me that you would offer up yourself, your mind, your heart to something which you don't fully believe in. Which leaves you guessing or doubting. I think it is lazy to settle for less than 100% resonance of what you believe. You must not settle! Make your own faith, the faith that you believe 100%. There is something out there for you that perfectly aligns with that chord in your heart. Don't accept less than that. We all are in a pattern of accepting less than that, much less than that, and we wonder why we are unhappy and stressed and depressed. When my mom tells me that, she basically admits that she has given up. She admits that she has set the bar low for herself, so that 20% is enough most days. You know that if you plan on failing, you will fail.

Plan on succeeding. Plan on finding a faith that sends shivers down your spine and answers all of your questions and lets you be the best you can be, better than the best.

I will not settle. I do not attend church anymore because I refuse to settle. Because I have found 100% and I am not going back to less than that. You are the very best, you are perfect, do not let yourself down, do not be complacent. Expect 100% from your spiritual moments....100% is out there for all of us, and you deserve it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Da Vinci

Let’s talk about the Da Vinci Code. The movie proposes that there is a hidden secret so electrifying that it will change all of us. Jesus was man, and he married, and he left a son behind. It allows us to see Jesus as one of us, and more, it lets us think that any one of us could be his living descendant. That is the truth that so captivates us….. Could Jesus be walking the earth right now? Even more electrifying, could I be Jesus in the flesh? Could he be me? Could I love and lead like Jesus did?

The grail is not a cup, or a box of bones, or a treasure hunt, or a Masonic mystery, or a lineal descendant of Jesus. The grail is the knowledge that Jesus was man, flesh and blood. He, and all of the other prophets, are just like us, just as magical and compassionate and touched and loved as we all are. And that secret, the secret that we are Jesus, that each of us is God, has been cloistered for so long. It has been hidden from us and has eluded our grasp much like the grail in Da Vinci code. Those of us with small, fearful hearts and a lust for temporal power have kept the great news from us for millennia. They have been blind to what is right in front of us. Or maybe they do see the truth but prefer that we stumble in darkness and heartache and longing and strangled love. God, love, fate, my loved ones, my son, all unlocked the grail in me, so that you can now find it in yourself. To borrow some language from National Treasure, the grail lantern has been lit.

I often feel like I am Sophie Neveu, like I have been looking for the grail and have found it. Even that I am the grail secret itself, I am the hidden link, the lifeblood between God and us. I have the answer that will fell the Church and set us all free. That will grace us all with the most perfect and primeval knowledge there is. That we are all Gods, that every one of us is God. We are all the prophet, all the messiah, more than the messiah. Jesus was only God’s son. You are God incarnate. This exhilarating truth is both ancient and new. It brings us back to God, back where we started before religion started separating us from God, telling us he lived apart, above and beyond us. For we know in part as we are fully known.

I have this dream that I walk into a room and it’s filled with friends and family and they are contentedly joyous about my arrival. Mom and Dad take my hand, smiling, and say “we’ve been waiting for you.” Like at the Church in Da Vinci Code, except I know and recognize all the people and they are all celebrating, like it’s a party for me. They say, as if to Neo, “we’ve known all along you were the one and we’ve been waiting so long for you to figure it out and lead us out of the maze.” It’s like coming home. Have any of you had this dream? Welcome to my dream, our dream, your dream. It can be real, for all of us.

Yes, I have been touched, I have a different perspective, I have seen what is true and I think I can take us all to the truth….but, we are all just like me in our hunt for the divine. I have a mental illness, but I am otherwise no different from you and you know this. If I am a saviour, so are you. I guarantee you are God; I've seen the luminous light in your eye and your joyous, unexpected laugh, and the flicker of your eyelids when you hit upon truth. I've seen God in you and it's radiant. Still, it’s been a struggle for me. Balancing the human and divine in me has been hard. But it’s much easy now that I am writing about it. It will be easy and seamless for you too, once you believe it. Easier than you could ever have imagined.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another glimpse of heaven on earth

So tell me more about Heaven….what’s it like?

It’s October 2003. I’m in the plane above the clouds on the way back from South Beach. I see the sunset, the golden sun, the rays of love, heaven’s view. Tupac’s view. A perfect, wonderful world. This is Heaven as I have seen it. When I am manic.

I am in Heaven on Earth for three days in October in Lexington, Virginia. I’m walking around in Heaven on Earth. Love is pouring out from all of us, from above, from all creation, in all directions. From eyes, mouths, fingertips, like golden sunlit waves of unstoppable love. The sun seems to be the source but it continually regenerates all over the place, peacefully pouring over everything. It’s warm but not hot. It’s vibrant but not blinding. It’s sunlight in motion dancing through trees, reverberating off lips, tumbling into dark and crowded places, illuminating all that has been dark. Filling every void, in everyone.

I’m not “trying” to love anymore than those around me are. It’s reflexive, as natural as breathing.

I smile all the time for 3 days. Without trying, my first instinct is to act with love towards others, and they love me just as much. I look others in the eye, in the heart. They recognize and smile back. There is such empathy for one another. I feel all that happens to them, all their joy, as if it were happening to me.

Things work. It’s a “green light”, all the time feeling. A joy to be alive, to interact with others.

I go to see the minister at Trinity Methodist church in Lexington. Stanley Pigue. I tell him I am bipolar, but also that I am in heaven. I’m partly scared and partly exuberant. He smiles. He loves me, as if he is prescient. He is touched and renewed. He tells me not to be afraid, that I have been given a gift, if only momentarily. He tells me to get healthy, but to recognize and hold onto my grace. He is good at what he does.

Life has been so happy and easy this week. I smile all the time. I am tickled, mesmerized by what I see around me. I talk to people, can’t wait to talk to people, share their lives. I am genuinely interested in them and they in me.

GODDAMN I love everyone so much! My heart is bursting with joy. Everyone I see is the soul mate to my soul. Everyone I see is an extension of God, which is love.

In this heaven there is no preface, no pretense, no fear. We are figuratively naked (pre-fall?) There was no fall. It was manufactured. A conjure.

Heaven on earth is 100,000% better than anything I had ever imagined it would be. Indescribable beauty, permeated with vibrant love and light, right here with everyday people in real time.


One analogy I can give you for what heaven feels like is from Indiana Jones. It’s about blind faith. When I am in heaven, I feel like Indy in the third movie, when he has to have blind faith to step off the cliff into a chasm. He has to believe he will be saved from death. He has to have blind, uncomprehending, superhuman faith. Now, for me, that faith is in love and it is in me. It is open eyed and understanding and knowing and flesh and blood. I have elevated from the vantage point of fear and pain and unrequited love, from fumbling in the dark, and can now see the footbridge before I take the step. Blind faith has become concrete knowledge of all of me, of the God in me. Of faith in others, who are also God.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I truly believe we are all God. Not his children or his flock or his disciples…we ARE ALL HIM. GOD IS LOVE. WE ARE ALL LOVE. Has nobody ever thought this before? Has nobody ever seen this before? Why not? Why shouldn’t we be God? Why have we convinced ourselves that we are not good enough to be God? Why do we always put ourselves last when we should be first?

Has no one ever coined the term autophilia or autotheism? Does this whole house of cards all come tumbling down when someone says “autotheism” is the same as manic religiousity? How can I say “I am God”, but let me finish the sentence before you jump down my throat and fit the straitjacket for me…”and you are too.” Welcome to my mind’s perception of reality. Welcome to the transparency dimension. Mental illness is not contagious, but illumination is.

Some other words for this belief that we are all perfect, pure, and infinite are superpolytheism, Hyperpolytheism. Billion-ism. Googletheism. Worship 6 billion people as God, plus all the plants and animals, all that has life. Even that which is man-made, that which is made from Love. The sun and the stars. All that’s every been created by Love, which is called “God” by Christians.

There are no absolutes. On the 360 degree circle that is theological variety, hyperpolytheism is right next to monotheism at the top. Yin and Yang. One God. All of us Gods. One Love. God’s love pouring through all of us. We become Him. He becomes us. It’s worship of Love, of Us, instead of something external to us like God or Allah or Buddha or Krishna as conceived in the preaching religions.

Atheism and Christianity can coexist, as can Islam and Judaism. They can exalt in their differences and in their striking similarities. You don’t have to be 100% one or the other. Stop painting yourself into that strident and suffocating box.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have been all around the world with religion. I consider myself a student of all religions but a member of none. I believe the "prophecies they will fall away" and we will live soon in a post-religion world, but a world that ironically draws powerful truths from many mainline religions.

I went to church maybe once a year in college. The best religion I got was Religion 101 with Professor Marks at Washington and Lee. We studied the major world religions, but neglected the other belief systems, like Mayanism, Gnosticism, Taoism, Confucianism, Transcendentalism, Rastafarianism. Atheism. Communism.

Buddhism was one of my favorites.

In Buddhism, we are all leaves on the water, the current takes us where it will. The current buoys us, leads us, sustains us, and at times challenges and drowns us. In my faith, the Current = Love = God = Us. I tailor Buddishm a bit to suit me. I am not just a leaf in the water. I see it this way: I am sitting on the leaf, with a paddle in hand, in equal measure steering and floating. Master of my fate and disciple of fate at the same time. This view is incredibly empowering for me.

Another favorite of mine is Transcendentalism. It’s finding God in Nature. Nature calls out its Love song to us. It’s about breaking through the veil into the peace and fearlessness and familiarity of Nature. In Nature, we breathe in the sweet spirit of unity, of creation, of humanity, of design and destiny, all bound by love. Avatar evoked this spirituality. The Living spirit of Nature God, connecting all of us with a current, a network as complex and interconnected as the human brain. The epitome of science and spirit, working together. That’s God-love. That’s what’s coming for us all.

I love this quote by Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Live on, c’mon!

Transcendentalism is finding Love, finding your God in Nature. Nature as your sanctuary. Our heart’s home.

An embodiment of Nature’s love song for me is Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, which was read by my brother Jeff at my wedding.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Come join us in celebration, those who love sunshine on meadow
Who love shadow of the forest,
love the wind among the branches and the palacades of pine trees,
and the thunder in the mountains whose innumerable echoes flap like eagles in their eries.

Listen to this song of marriage. How, from another tribe and country came a young man, “give me as my wife this maiden, and our hands be clasped more closely, and our hearts be more united.”

Thus it is, our daughters leave us, those we love and those who love us. When a youth with flaunting feathers beckons to the fairest maiden.

From the sky the sun benignant looked upon them through the branches, Saying to them, “Oh, my children life is checkered shade and sunshine.”

The two figures man and woman Standing hand in hand together, with their hands so clasped together that they seem in one united. And the words thus represented are, “I see your heart within you.”

Sing them songs of love and longing
Now, let's feast and be more joyous.

This passage portrays the most sacred of spiritual ceremonies, a wedding, in the knaves and eaves and chapels of the pine trees. I find my heart, my husband, my love, when I experience God’s natural world.

Where do you find your heart? Yourself? Your best love? What glorifies you?

Transcendentalism as I experience it shows me that we need no Roman basilicas or St. Paul’s Cathedrals. Building your heart’s sanctuary requires no construction fund, no labor, no offerings, no tithing. Do other religions have tithing? I see now that tithing is a part of a business model manufactured by the Church to keep solvent that which could not survive economically on its own. To engage and ensure never ending profits by appealing to the abiding hope of its chief investors, the congregations, the elect. It’s the ultimate pyramid scheme.

An audience with God requires no admission fee. He’s right out your front door. He’s in the river and on the beach and over the mountains. He’s in your mirror. He’s you and me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rat race maze

The first image God showed me was this: Humanity lives in a rat race maze. This vision appeared to me as if I were above the scene, looking down on it. We are all rats running, frantic, fighting and killing for food and for money…lost, futile, worried, desperate, rushed, blind, hitting dead end after dead end. Our heads are down, our eyes are down. We won’t look each other in the eye, we just chase and chase, breathless, ravenous, exhausted. Afraid. We are four inches tall. The walls of the maze are five inches tall. From our “on all fours” perspective, we cannot see over the walls. If we could stand on our hind legs, we could look out over the walls of the maze.

If we knew how to stop and look over the walls, we would see:

Heaven, Eden, Infinite Peace, Abundant Joy, rapturous beauty and vibrant love, all we have ever dreamed of, right outside the walls of the maze. Contemporaneous with us, right next door. It’s so close that we can sometimes hear, smell, see and dream about glimpses of it from within the maze. There is no door, no lock keeping us in the maze. There is nothing keeping us from heaven on earth. It is right outside the maze and we could walk right out of the maze into Heaven if we just knew how to see. If we could just elevate, get an overhead perspective, we would see the simple solution as we looked at the maze from overhead and saw Heaven right next door. Heaven yields plentiful sun and food and safety and shelter and endless love. And no fear. No hate. No jealousy. No vengeance. No rage. No sadness. No frustration. And ironically, no need for hope. Hope is a wonderful thing when you are looking for better days ahead. But when all your fondest desires have been realized and your wildest dreams have come true, you don’t need hope anymore. You are bliss. Heaven on earth is all you have imagined, all you have longed for and so very much more. And it’s right here, in present day, RIGHT NEXT DOOR.

I’ve seen the maze from overhead, from a God’s eye view. I’ve seen how close heaven on earth is. I can see what is coming. I’ve been told how to get there. I know the way out. Would absolutely love for you to join me.

So what keeps us from heaven? Fear. Fear is the opposite of love. The walls of the maze are fear. The veil that has obscured heaven for so long is fear that we have been taught. Largely by Christianity, but also by other religions. Fear of death, fear of hell, fear of disappointing God, fear of God’s judgment, fear of sin, fear of nakedness, fear of our desires, fear of ego, fear of the unknown, fear of Armageddon, fear of judgment day. Fear of not being loved. On the other side of the veil, on the other side of fear, there is eternal happiness and supreme love.

But right now we are veiled. We live in darkness. We hurt each other all the time. Because we don’t yet love each other in the supreme love that God has put in front of us. We just don’t know how to. Heaven has not come to earth yet. When we stop fearing, the pain will go away and the love will overwhelm you. Our human foibles will become less and less. We will hurt each other less and less, and then, nevermore. Eventually, love will rule, we will have heaven on earth and the pain and misery will vanish.

How do we get there? How do we walk out of the maze into Heaven?

It involves seeing with new eyes. Lifting our eyes to light and love, using all the depths of our brain, casting aside some long-lived fears, and getting an overhead perspective so we can see that Heaven truly is right next door to the maze. It’s sort of like the Magic Eye 3D pictures from the 90’s. The image is there, buried in the picture all the time, but we can’t see it right now because the veil blinds us. You clear the fear from your mind, which unchains worry and frustration and disappointment and you can relax your eyes. You can focus. You can see clearly. Once you can see the 3D image, see this other dimension, it then becomes so easy. It’s impossible not to see it when you look again.
It looks as though the 3D image has been there all along, has been so obvious. As though we’ve always known it. (We have always known it!) Your brain’s connection to your vision works in a new way, a multi-dimensional way. You’re in the transparency dimension, the multi-color, vibrant, crystal clear heaven dimension. “Then through a glass darkly, now face to face.” 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 is our guide, it is truth. It tells us exactly what is coming. And that is coming from me, a skeptic of organized religion. I value certain parts of the bible as vital to my own personal faith. I recognize that our religions do point us in the direction of truth to some degree and we can summon that guidance at the same moment we break free of religion’s veil.

So it's about breaking free from the fear we have been taught since birth. The fear that our modern religions swaddle us in. I know how to do it. I see what's on the other side. We are all brave and strong and smart and good enough to break free.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The new view

I’d like to discuss my journey with you. I've learned things that seem like truth to me; I wonder if they feel like truth to any of you? Do they resonate with any of you? I finally feel like I am not alone, and like it's time to share and learn with all of you.

I respect all kinds of spirituality. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you love Mother earth or science, or Nirvana or Turiya, or find peace in your child's laughter or songs or movies or playing soccer….or whatever exalts you, I love it all. It is you trying to find truth in that which you believe, that which brings you health and happiness and contentment. Therefore, I find worth in some parts of all religions, all six billion different flavors. They are all expressions of your spirituality, your ethos, your core, your connection to your heart, what gets you through the day. I love that you all have faith: in something or someone, in everything or nothing. It's beautiful to me to see your minds conceiving your own personal spirituality. It is your brain providing comfort/solace to you. It is your brain trying to find love; it's your brain working on your heart, which to me is an astounding neurological feat. Frankly, both a biological miracle and necessity at once. I think evolved and evolving spirituality is crucial to our survival.

There are many diverse religions out there. We all have unique and complex spiritual needs, and we all have our own personalized belief systems to meet these needs (or I think we all should). Our own recipe, our own personal theology….as perfect and pure as we are. It’s why 6 major world religions cannot possibly suit us all. There is not one size fits all.

We all worship something, whether it is a God or a fruit fly or a vice. What’s so different about this book? I have never heard of a religion that gives you the license and freedom to worship yourself as God. Autophilia. Autotheism. You may stop reading right this second....I hope not. This new perspective sounds heretical and impossible because of millenia of being taught something different, but as I have learned, it is the beginning of the heaven epoch for all of us. Our world is disintegrating into polarizing politics and terrorism and natural disasters and an erosion of decency. We need a game changer, a wholesale renovation of our lessons about God, and I have found just that. We will explore this new view in this blog.

Why are there so many different religions but they all seem so similar? Because the prophet in all religions knew God, became God. He Rose. He had a direct line to God. He walked in love. He lived in Heaven. But like the tower of Babel, when the prophet tried to convey it to others, it got lost in translation, misinterpreted. Words alone could not convey the prophet’s rapture. His preaching was inadequate for the task, for the gift He had to give us. These prophets could not give people the feeling they had, the transparency to God. They could not bring heaven to earth. In that, they have all failed us. They could only talk about Heaven, describe it. The veiled of us tried to write about it, having never been there. They tried to teach it instead of instilling the actual feeling of Heaven. Instead of demonstrating what it felt like to walk in God-love.

Having dabbled in some variety of religions, I have found my own theology, which doesn't fit neatly into any one denominational box. I'm not wholly Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or Hindu or Transcendentalist or Rastafarian or Atheist, thought I find some truth in all of those faiths. I am just Hilary. I've pulled that which I think is true from a variety of faiths and traditions and pursuits and disciplines. I call on the Rastafari understanding of God as a living man. The Native American understanding of Love, of Mother Earth, of Nature. The Hindu understanding of the everlasting Soul. The Buddhist understanding of anti-materialism. The Catholic understanding of saints and of angels, of solemnity, and of a quiet closeness to God. My own theology, the refinement of my faith, necessarily raises questions and concerns about a variety of organized religions. I don't think any one organized religion is right. I'd like to learn much more about all of them to filter out what I think is right and what I think is wrong about each. I hope we can all be brave enough to carve our own spiritual niche.

I'll share what God sees when he looks at our world in the next post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Arkadelphia happiness

Luckily for me, I had a groundswell of support in Nathan and his spectacular family. Also as luck would have it, I started seeing a miracle of a psychiatrist in Little Rock. She took me off Abilify and started me on Lamictal, as well as some other sleeping, depression, and anxiety medications. I now take seven medications a day.

Within two weeks, I felt a huge difference. The clouds parted, the sun shone, and I looked forward to each day instead of dreading waking up. I regained my mental acuity and re-engaged in social activities. Best of all, I felt a tremendous bond with my lovely son. I felt such a surge of affection and protection, as if I was making up for all the time lost to post-partum. Bless his heart, he did not hold a grudge, but instead he seemed delighted to see his mother enjoying health for the first time in his life.

As the weeks went on, I continued to feel better. I also gained some insights about my illness and what treatments worked for me. The great breakthrough came when I finally bought what Marie Wood was selling: that repression, or attempts at extermination, of my illness were utterly futile. I was born Bipolar and would always be Bipolar. I needed to give it time and space, or it would keep blowing up in my face in manic breaks. I needed to “thread it out” as Marie said….I needed to write about it.

What I wrote about, what poured out of me in unstoppable waves in 2007, was truly manic. But the core beliefs, the thesis and theology that are truly my own, have a place. They are real and valid and heart felt. They are truth to me, and have resonated with others as well. They are not crazy: the strong-armed suppression of my spirituality and of my gifts, and ignoring my transcension….that is what’s crazy.

How do I know that giving space and voice to my illness and its manifestations is the right thing for me? Because I have been happy this year. I am a part-time attorney at the Chaney family law firm, specializing in Social Security Disability appeals. I enjoy to the fullest being mother to River, and he is flourishing in many ways. I help Nathan behind the scenes in his various lines of business. I volunteer for two service organizations and play softball during the summers. I love to cook and entertain and thrive in the community of good people in this small town. My illness is now the backstory, not the boss.

Do I still worry? Sometimes. Do I get frustrated at times? Yes. Do I have manic moods? Yes, but infrequently. The difference now is that my baseline is happiness, which is a totally new experience. My faith, a faith not in God or the Church, but in the love that resides in me and those around me, a faith that grew from illness, brings me joy and hope. Living with my mental illness, meeting it face to face, and yes, loving it as a living breathing part of me have yielded unparalleled peace.

I have found a place in between mania and depression, in between heaven and hell. I am beginning to integrate the beautiful picture of heaven into my daily life. I am not risen, but rising. I feel hopeful, relieved, renewed, and like I finally have a forum for my experience.

I cannot convince anyone of what I have seen or felt. I know that. I cannot ask people to believe that which they don’t. What I can do, what my husband and friends and minister have urged me to do, is to report. I can share what I have seen and try to express how beautifully what I have seen has touched my life. I report, and I let you make up your own minds.

Of course, what I want more than anything is to give you all heaven on earth on a silver platter. I want to be able to show you, to touch you with the phenomenal tidal wave of love I have felt. I want you to see God as I have seen him, to recognize he is you and to walk through the gates to heaven on earth. Can I achieve that which I want? We’ll have to see. Believing that I can is what buoys me on a daily basis. So here’s the beautiful picture that’s behind the veil…..

Monday, November 22, 2010


My psychiatrist put me back on a low dose of Risperdal and I weathered the pregnancy as best I could. At some times I did actually feel happy and strong, and I started imagining what my son would look like and what it would feel like to hold him for the first time. I toyed with baby names and looked at nursery décor online. But sometimes I wondered if this was a big mistake. I wondered if my son would be mentally ill and what I would tell him when he figured out his mom was sick and that she would take pills every day of her life. I worried that the sleeplessness that awaits all new moms would send me over the edge, never to return. I was very scared.

My husband and I worried about me being on Risperdal during the pregnancy. It is apparently a class C drug which means the medical field doesn’t have enough data to know whether or not it is harmful to a fetus. What we did know was that the low dose allowed me to regain some mental stability and that the baby would only be as healthy as his mother. All of my doctors kept singing the same chorus: the mother has to be healthy first. That was our number one priority.

I delivered River Chaney on June 20, 2008. All was well, and he turned out to be the delight of my life. I didn’t figure that out until December 2009, because I suffered 18 long months of post-partum depression. My psychiatrist put me back on Lithium and Risperdal after I had the baby. It never quite worked like it was supposed to.

After I had the baby, I started seeing a neuropsychologist. She introduced me to a new method of therapy: neurofeedback. I can’t describe it clinically. I just know it had been used effectively in seizure patients and those with head trauma. It involved pasting receptors on certain parts of my head and wiring me up to a computer. I would then watch various simple games, much like Pac Man, and the computer would reward my brain for positive behavior. It was attempting to build up the healthy parts of my brain that would ease sleeplessness, anxiety, and mania. This procedure was quite effective for some time with managing sleeplessness. But there were two times during neurofeedback sessions when the stimulation of my brain was too penetrating: my emotions absolutely overwhelmed me. I burst into tears as childhood memories of my father surfaced fast and hot in my consciousness; my rapidly swinging emotions were dealing blow after blow to my psyche in quick succession. Wrenching feelings had never caused me physical pain before....this was new territory and it scared me. I cried out to stop the game. Neurofeedback was expensive and I wasn’t making enough headway to keep up the treatment, and after the two emotional breakdowns while in session, I wondered if this manipulation of my brain could actually do some harm in the long run. So I quit neurofeedback.

The worst time for me was January 2009, when I was often suicidal. I was panicked and anxious all the time and could not figure out how to get out of bed and brush my teeth in the morning. I cried constantly and could barely keep it together at work. I felt paralyzed by fear and am sure I had a panic attack at work when I could not breathe and wanted to crawl under my desk and hide. I was afraid of losing my job and losing my child and losing my life to a mental institution. I was afraid I had fallen off the ladder into the black abyss of mental torture.

Taking care of River was a blur. I don’t even remember taking care of him at all. I know I dropped him off at daycare and picked him up each day. I knew how to change a diaper and that’s about all I could do. Nathan carried us then.

My father and I have always had a deal that if I feel like I will commit suicide, I need to call him first. I was so upset in January 2009 that I could not even talk on the phone to my parents. I felt I would be swallowed by my grief if I even opened my mouth to them. Hearing their concern and hearing my own despair as I talked to them would just rip me apart. So for a period of 48 hours, in my most critical condition, I refused to talk to them. I just let their calls go to voicemail. I remember feeling a visceral tug at my heart when I listened to one of my dad’s messages. He sounded plaintive and scared for me. He tried to keep the worry out of his voice but he betrayed vulnerability, which is something I don’t think I have ever seen in my dad. He knew he could do little for me 1000 miles away. I wonder if he thought I had broken our deal.

When it got to be intolerable, I switched to Abilify based on the recommendation of my psychiatrist. After months of Abilify, I no longer felt suicidal, but I still felt tired and sad and frustrated. One bright spot during this difficult time was the entrance of Marie Wood into my life. She was a licensed counselor in Fayetteville who let me be exactly who I was with her, and she told me all that had been revealed to me was beautiful. She’s the one who urged me to keep writing, and she engendered real discussions about the possibility of writing a book. She soothed me and championed me, and though I only met with her a handful of times, she really opened the door to the next, and best, chapter in my life. She helped me understand that my illness was an organic part of me, and that I simply must stop trying to exterminate it. Marie finally gave me license to love all of me, even the sickest, saddest parts.

In spite of the brief buoyancy that these Marie-moments offered, in that first part of 2009 I was still miserable. I was withered and bitter, beyond despondent. Nathan and River hung in there as best they could, and Nathan was heroic in his dedication to making our marriage work in spite of how sick I was. My mother talked me through the most basic steps to get through every day, but nothing could ease my fears and frustrations. I was not even treading water at work, and I felt no connection to my son at all. I didn’t even feel any remorse about this. My mom would say, “Motherhood is the hardest job you’ll ever love.” How preposterous, because I hated every minute. I knew abstractly that I had a perfect, precious, brilliant little boy, but the tug of the heartstrings was nonexistent. I resigned myself to a long life of obligation.

Things got desperate. The job sucked, motherhood sucked, all of my relationships sucked and there was no relief in sight. I had to do something to change the game. I finally told my boss in Fayetteville that I was Bipolar. It was a great relief but my stressful work situation did not get any easier. I quit my job to salvage my health and we moved to Arkadelphia, Arkansas in June 2009 to be closer to Nathan’s parents.

I just needed a break. I needed a timeout from life for a minute, or a month.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pregnant and in the closet

In the August 2007 manic episode, I felt like recording and sharing what was happening was very important to God’s purpose. The words in the 43 page manic journal flew from my fingertips as epiphany after epiphany blossomed in my mind. I felt like a vessel and I wanted to get God’s message right.

I was in quite a state. I elected to stay home from work to rest, but also to go to Kinko’s to make ten copies of my manic journal. I felt I had to publish what I had written to those close to me, because it seemed like such an important dissertation. I mailed all 43 pages of my manic journal to my close family and friends.

They were shocked and saw the pure mania in those pages. It was my world-view and my understanding of organized religion. It was the coalescing of my adult faith, of my mature spirituality. But it was frantic and stream of consciousness and it revealed things very personal to me. Nathan thought it smacked of Kevin Spacey’s writings in the movie Seven. I realized it looked like Russell Crowe’s voluminous writing in A Beautiful Mind. While it represented clarity and truth to me, and seemed to be something I simply had to share with the world, to my family it represented a descent into a dark place.

In spite of this, many of the recipients of that package said there was truth in the writing. Nathan said he agreed with the majority of what I had written, but it was just the form of expression that troubled him. Priya and Sean said it hit the nail on the head in terms of organized religion. My dad said some of it resonated with him, and that he believed in heaven on earth too. Bless their hearts, in the midst of the shock and fear they were feeling, they were honest enough to validate some of what I thought.

I’ve kept that journal as a reminder of what mania looks like in print, but I also reread it in times of trouble and it strengthens my convictions. It brings me understanding of the world around me. Since then I have written over two hundred more pages, but never in the frantic scribble of those first 43 pages.

My therapists have told me that writing is good therapy, and can help me process and track my thoughts (thank you so very much, Marie Wood…you are a gift of a therapist). It is a great form of expression for me. The therapists told me to give my spirituality a voice on paper, when I am manic and when I am stable both. For a few years I only wrote when I was manic. In 2010, I started writing when I felt well too. I am learning how to write and not be scared of what is written. I am learning how to record emotion and analysis at the same time.


My time in Fayetteville was hard. I never could find the right legal job. Work was work, as it should be, and there was no place for mental weakness. There was no room for any shearing of intellect or for any departure from reality in the practice of law. Lawyers do not have disabilities. For those of you out there who are practicing law while suffering mental illness, I know the hell that is your every day. I was always terrified my bosses would find out I was Bipolar, but at the same time I was desperate to shout it from the rooftops and be done with it. I felt like I was “in the closet,” hiding a deep dark secret that revealed who I was at my core. I hope for a day when we can meet mental illness where it lies, because it does not discriminate by profession. If we deal with the fact that we all suffer from something and we accommodate our disabilities, we can all be more productive and save loads in health care costs. And save lives lost to alcoholism, addiction, and suicide.

I hope I am not the first attorney to “come out of the mental illness closet.” It’s 2010 and I should not be the first. If I am, I hope I can demonstrate that there is nothing to be ashamed of and there are ways to practice your art and stay healthy and feel fulfilled and accepted.

I did get pregnant in September 2007. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I lost all appetite and lost 13 pounds. I felt that dizzying head nausea that many pregnant women feel: a nausea that doesn’t start in your belly but seems to start in your sinuses and wend its way up through your eyes and ears and temples until you can’t open your eyes without feeling as though you will throw up. I remember with wistfulness that Nathan took me out to a romantic dinner to celebrate my pregnancy and I could not even look at the menu, let alone take a bite to eat. It was strange for me to eat nothing all day but Jolly Ranchers and Saltines. But that’s all I could handle.

All this was normal for early pregnancy. But then I started to deteriorate mentally. I felt certain I was killing the baby by losing so much weight. I battled with myself daily about whether I wanted the baby or whether I had made a mistake. As I watched the pounds drop from my body, I thought I was not equipped to have a baby and could not survive the pregnancy. Deep in a pre-partum depression, I hated the baby for causing this strife. I felt like the baby was an illness, a plague that I wanted to rip out of my stomach so I could get back to some form of health. How could I ever be a mother if I hated the life that grew inside me because of how it was tearing me apart? I knew I was in bad shape and called out to my mother to make an emergency trip to Fayetteville to help me survive. I clung to my mother and my husband in those early weeks, and my dear Priya assured me my baby was a fighter and would pull through this. I told only those three about my poisonous thoughts and they all assured me they were normal and would not do lasting harm to me or the baby. They turned out to be right, and their faith and consolations overwhelmed my doubt and despair.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

43 pages

Songs I heard called out to me. I remember hearing Stairway to Heaven, I Can See Clearly, Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up, Natalie Merchant’s Wonder, and Joan Osborne’s One of Us. Books, movies, songs and even billboards seemed to call out the same refrain: Love Rules, and Heaven is Here. We all knew the song, we all lived the lyrics. We saw the message in each other. To this day, whether manic or not, I still hear the familiar song of hope and see the lyrics of love in print many times a day. It’s like I cannot NOT hear the song now that I have heard it once.

Since these trips to heaven, I have wondered if perhaps this is really how everyone lives their daily lives. Are happy, hopeful, caring interactions the norm for lots of you out there? Am I somehow specially chosen to live this happiness or am I just the last one to the dance? Is this feeling just a day in the life for all of you out there? How presumptuous of me to assume you have not felt this too. I cannot know what you have experienced. All I know is that these special times of God-love are so different from the regular rat race…so sweet and magical. If any of you have gotten to experience this feeling, I think you are lucky and I am glad to have felt the same thing.

There’s no doubt that my trips to heaven are involuntary and are signals of mania. They are exciting and jubilant times, but I know they represent a detachment from reality. They are like a waking, walking dream…a trip to an inner dimension of my brain, a trip to the transparency dimension. I never know how long the trip will last, and I do like coming back to the real world. I don’t want to live there permanently until we all do. But my God, do I want to take you all there.

These visits to heaven give me such hope. When I come back to reality, I feel bestowed with a purpose. Each time I see more clearly what I will do while on this earth. I don’t ever know when or if I will go back to heaven. If it means mania for me, I would rather not go again at all. What has happened is this: I have gradually been able to integrate bits of heaven into my daily life. I am learning how to walk in a peaceful living heaven in present day, how to incorporate it without losing touch with my daily life. Finding this balance brings me great calm and understanding. I’ve answered a lot of the questions for me; I’ve found the user’s guide for my life, and it is such sweet relief.


After I came back from heaven in August 2007, I had a very active and agitated episode, marked by anger at my family and stress at work and frantic writing in my manic journal. It was a time when God revealed a great deal to me in a short amount of time. It was an exhausting time and a time fraught with emotion. I wrote 43 pages of what God was showing me, what God was teaching me. At that time I again felt like I was a prophet. Like I may be the Second Coming because God shared so much with me to pass on to the world. What I’ve realized is that there are two types of mania for me: the one like this agitated episode when I am learning from God fast and furious and feel like I am God’s gift, and then the walks in heaven when I feel just as joyous and special as everyone else, no more touched or gifted than anyone else. At those times, I see we are all the prophet. We are all chosen. Not just me.

When I am depressed, I am nearly debilitated and can hardly carry on in my daily life. My suicidal ideations make me dangerous. When manic though, I am quite capable and am no danger to myself or others. I can keep a stable front for those around me. I remember that my mom came to visit me during one of my manic episodes and saw that I was frenetic and super-active. She knew I was manic, but no one else would have suspected. She heard me calmly and competently take a business call in my most professional and reasonable voice. This is part of why so many Bipolars will not medicate. They are quite self-sufficient during their mania and actually feel better able to manage multiple tasks. We are called “high-functioning manics.”

I’ve casually read the reports of some great creative minds in our history being Bipolar. It makes perfect sense to me. Your brain elevates to a higher level of insight and the creative and expressive parts of your brain work in elegant harmony. You feel a keen kinship to all those who walk the earth with you, which makes your “piece de resistance,” whether it’s art or music or writing, so relatable, and so convincing to others. Those with mania feel things so very deeply; this “hyperempathy” rings out clearly in the artistic expression of our furied mind.

So maybe we should hear what these manics have to say…..Maybe we can understand that these reports from the front lines of mental illness are a window to new capabilities in the mind. There is no doubt that some Bipolars have literally set the world on fire with their manic creations, so maybe we ought not be so dismissive of the by-products of manic episodes. Perhaps these waking dreams deserve some attention and analysis.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Back to heaven

It was in September 2003 that Nathan and I went to South Beach, Miami for a long weekend. We partied like locals and hardly slept. I have almost no memories of that weekend.

What happened next was the second time I visited heaven. (The first being when I saw the beautiful happy tableau of the housing project in Norfolk). As I was on the plane above the clouds in the late afternoon on Sunday, I felt the warmth of the sun. The setting sun over the clouds seemed to bestow peace on my soul. I thought, “I am in the clouds in heaven….this is what it feels like…..restful and vibrant and warm and peaceful.” What I didn’t realize was that because of my lack of sleep that weekend I was tumbling into a manic episode.

When manic, I feel a close understanding of God. Of who he is and why he does what he does and what he wants for us and how we’re going to get there. My view of the world, of the meaning of life, and of how we get to heaven, did not hit me like a ton of bricks one day. It just developed in my mind over the course of my life. Like any of us, I developed a world-view, an understanding of the world around me. It took time. And it took mania.

So for three days in September 2003 in Lexington Virginia, I walked in heaven on Earth. I remember heightened awareness. Everything was more vibrant and clearer and more colorful. There was this current of sunshine, which was Love, pouring down from above in golden rays and filling us all up and pouring out of our mouths and eyes and fingertips. I saw God truly was Love, made real in the golden sunlight that was radiating throughout the world. My brain felt super aware and receptive, and the word “Love “ was glowing at the front of my brain. I was absolutely overcome with love for myself, and for those around me, and for everyone on earth. It did not feel like some strange psychadelic trip. It seemed like the most natural state I had ever been in. It was present day. I was still doing all the things I normally did, like going to class and having lunch with friends and spending time with Nathan. But every interaction was a true joy. Everyone was so happy, just beaming with joy. We all seemed delighted to be with one another. And so familiar with each other. We seemed to all recognize our connection to each other, to understand the love pouring through all of us and binding us all. I could not stop smiling.

I did sleep some in those days, because my doctor in Norfolk knew I was manic and told me to take more Trazadone and Risperdal. But I still felt this vibrant, sensory, glowing sensation of love. This pervasive peace. Joy, optimism, cooperation, caring….this all surged out of people.

I went to meet with Stanley Pigue, the minister at Trinity United Methodist Church in Lexington. I had been to church there a few times and felt pretty comfortable with him. I told him I was in Heaven. I wept.

He was gentle and thoughtful. He said I had a special perspective, one that obviously came about because of my mental illness. Nonetheless, it was a special closeness to God and his message. Not many others had felt what I did, he told me. He said I should get healthy again but should realize that I was gifted. To not dismiss it as sheer lunacy. He though God was trying to tell me something. Stan Pigue buoyed me. He gave me hope that I was not deranged. That my vision, my walk in Heaven, was not something blasphemous and evil….it was a lucky shift in dimension for me. I should not be ashamed of it. I should listen to what God wants me to do. He said he had read of others having had similar experiences but never met anyone who had walked in heaven.

With increased medication, I gradually arrested that manic episode and returned to the rat race. Within a few days, I no longer felt touched or special. There was no more golden glow, no warm currency of love. Just routine, run of the mill life.


My grades did gradually improve in law school and I got a good job as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court in Norfolk. In 2006, after I completed my term as law clerk, I moved to Arkansas to marry Nathan, and I bounced from one law job to another. I was always terrified of my bosses finding out I was Bipolar. That crippled me and cost me three jobs as an attorney.

Nathan and I wanted to get pregnant. In 2007, my psychiatrist in Fayetteville, Arkansas told me to come off all of my medications to get pregnant. I did.

Coming off all of my medications precipitated one more trip to heaven in present day. It was in Fayetteville in August 2007. I again felt the powerful currency of God’s love, pouring forth from all of us in golden rivulets. I remember walking into the Burger King on College Avenue in Fayetteville and being delighted to see all inside. I had a spontaneous conversation with a man in line about the Cardinals season. He told me he was 44 and had no teeth and had not watched the Cards as much as he would have liked. We laughed and felt close. The joy on my face seemed to engender familiar conversations from others; it seemed to break down walls.

Everything worked. Everything I did and saw fit together seamlessly. I call those times “Green Light Days,” because traffic seemed to part…..everything was on time and fluid. There were no roadblocks, no frustrations, no hangnails or paper cuts. When in heaven I even seemed to have a bit of foresight, in that I knew things would work, and could see the puzzle pieces fit together. This wasn’t just optimism or faith or the power of positive thinking….it was prescience, like I saw the answers before the questions were even asked. That’s not quite right….it’s more like I knew the questions would be answered before they were even asked, but would marvel at the answers. Anytime I saw a potential hitch in how things worked, something natural but miraculous would happen to unkink the potential snag. You know when you go to a super nice hotel and the concierge and staff take care of every detail so you don’t encounter a second of trouble? It was like that: we were all very well taken care of. But we weren’t passive at all; we were not guests. We were active owners of heaven, making little miracles every moment. Imagine if everyone you laid eyes on was an answer to your prayers, every single person you saw made your heart’s fondest wishes come true. They knew your pleasure just by looking in your eyes. You would be ecstatic to be with people. I could not wait to see the next smiling face, the next miracle worker. I was truly filled with delight and wonder at the beautiful things to behold, and at the lovely way we interacted with one another. It made me very proud to be human; I was proud of all of us and how we glorified one another. You’ve just got to see this heaven….you will be BLOWN AWAY.

I have learned that the opposite of love is fear, and there was absolutely no fear in heaven. Because fear was banished, there was no evil, no hate, no transgressing against one another. The automatic, involuntary action for all of us was love. It was as reflexive as breathing.

Heaven was a busy and happy and productive place. It was not quiet, somber, hallowed or holy. Everyone worked in concert and cooperation. We were all happy to help each other. It was full of life and love and freedom and fun.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And here comes the depression

In the next month I kicked my boyfriend out of my life and watched my mom beat a path from Norfolk to Richmond every weekend. I insisted I should keep working and stay in my apartment. She wanted me home under her watch, but I felt the need for independent recovery. Looking back I think that was a mistake. In the summer of 2000, I sank into a deep depression that lasted for months. In conjunction with my other medications, my doctor also prescribed Wellbutrin, but that did not suit me. The weeks went by in a slow blur; I gained weight and slept a lot and avoided friends. I am an action-oriented girl who likes challenges and variety and inspiration and change, so moving slowly with leaden feet through my days does not suit me. I don’t imagine it suits anyone.

In the fall of 2000, I made the decision to quit my job and move home, with the intention of going to law school. My therapist in Norfolk wondered whether that would be a good idea for a Bipolar. She thought it would lead to a stressful and difficult life. I insisted I was stable, and as is my way, I insisted I knew what was right.

As luck would have it, my graceful former home of Lexington, Virginia welcomed me back for law school. I would enter Washington and Lee School of Law as a first year law student in August 2001. I looked back over the year 2000 and saw one major manic break, one not-so-minor manic break, and one ongoing bout with depression. Would you take that as a sign to jump right into law school? Never mind, it’s just what I did.

I still took Lithium (1200 mg a day), and Risperdal (1 to 2 mg a day), and Trazadone as needed for sleep. I still struggled with the dead weight of depression, but I didn’t know anything different because depression comes on like a thief in the night and only after you rise from its darkness do you see how pervasive it was. When depressed, you are stuck in a cruel mental suspension: you don’t think things are that bad but you also don’t think they can get better. So you make no great effort to change the status quo. I just kept plodding through my life. Plodding is no way to make a mark in law school.

I got a 2.28 in my first semester at Washington and Lee. Not even a C+ average. Hard to swallow for a former A-student overachiever. A national merit scholar semi-finalist. Accepted at Duke, UVA and Princeton. A cum laude college graduate. A four year all-conference volleyball player at Washington and Lee University.

The next three years were difficult to say the least. Difficult, but very, very fun. I quickly tossed aside the admonition that medication and alcohol do not mix. Those were the three drunkest years of my life. And the three most expensive.

In law school I experienced side effects from Lithium and Risperdal. I felt like I was drugged….in a fog. I had hand tremors and coordination problems. The simplest mechanical tasks, like threading a needle or zipping a zipper, were difficult and made me feel incompetent and clumsy. My memory and concentration were poor and I had trouble with articulation and organization when writing briefs. I was also impatient when it came to work; it was hard for me to follow-through on a project or even sit through a 50 minute class to the end. Reading law is not easy, but it was particularly tough for me, so I often skipped the reading for class and embarrassed myself when I was called on by the professors. Let’s be quite honest though: I don’t think I can blame all my trouble on the medications. I’m sure I was just at that point in my twenties when fun was a priority, and in the beautiful town of Lexington, it was easy to keep real work in the real world at bay.

But there were treasures in that time too. At Washington and Lee, I met my brilliant and compassionate husband Nathan and my dear friends Priya and Mark. We all battled real and imagined demons in those three years but we hung together and enjoyed the tonic of true friendship.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reno mistake

My father called my boss at Capital One and told him I would be back to work within the month. By the end of March, I was back living in my apartment in Richmond with my boyfriend and going to work. My boss, Pat Jernigan, was remarkably understanding and accommodating. Looking back I would classify him as the patron saint of managing employees with disabilities. The folks at Capital One really seemed to want me to get back to normal. I was surprised that they were so willing to help me.

One of my perpetual mistakes with my illness is that I underestimate it. I always think I’ve been through the worst. No, I think that I’ve BEATEN the worst, and that only happy days lie ahead. It took me many years to realize that my illness is as organic as my body. As I combat it and learn to contain it, it grows stronger and finds alternate ways to chip away at me. It lives, and it wants to live on. It will destroy me if that means it can thrive. The illness will not be suffocated as long as I am breathing.

What I am trying to say is that in April 2000, I jumped back into my life full-throttle, unaware of the chronic, lifelong grip Bipolar has on its victims. I pretended nothing had happened, and I did not give my brain time to recover fully.

In April I took a trip to Reno with my boyfriend for four days. For some reason, maybe a very good one, traveling between multiple time zones is difficult for those with my insomnia issues. For those who have trouble “stopping the clock,” messing with the clock can prove pretty detrimental. It’s one reason spring and fall can be tough times for me, because of the daylight savings time change.

Anyway, here I was with fresh open brain injuries that no one could see but that were present nonetheless. I was not giving my brain the peace and quiet it needed to repair itself. My mom tried to talk me down from going to Reno, but I had to prove how healthy I was, or thought I was.

Within the first twenty-four hours in Reno, I knew I was in too deep. I started to feel electric again, and could not sleep. I remember crying to Andy that I was sick again and would never get better. He assured me that I would get better, and I lamented unfairly that no one would ever love someone as sick as me. He said quietly, “I love you.” I thought cruelly, “Not you, the real guy.” Even in my manic state, I knew we were not in this relationship for the long haul. Although Andy did well handling the crisis in February, I don’t think he had the stuff to partner with a Bipolar for a lifetime. While I had doubts someone of quality would want to marry someone with a mental illness, I need not have doubted. I would find my prince in due time.

From Reno I called my mom and spoke with my therapist too and said I had to get back to Virginia, and quick. They booked me an early flight and I stumbled frightened through airports in Reno and Chicago and DC. I told the flight attendants I was sick and was going home to meet my parents and they took good care of me. When I was in Chicago, I bought my parents a colorful coffee mug. In that action, I knew that buried under the bitch that was mental illness lived a loving, thoughtful Hilary.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Diagnosis Bipolar

Within a few days, the psychiatrist called my parents in and told them to be relieved. In so many words, I had the “good” mental illness. Boy, were we far gone….. Bipolar Disorder was considered the good diagnosis.

All I knew of Bipolar, or manic depression as they called it decades ago, was that the Bangles sang about Manic Mondays. I always thought that song was busy and upbeat. No wonder.

I would discover that I exhibited a typical manic symptom: religiousity. Bipolars often think they are God. Bipolar mania is marked by high emotion or feeling revved up. You feel things terribly deeply when manic. Whatever emotion you are feeling, you think you are the epitome of that emotion in all the world. So my empathy or concern for others, which is a good thing in moderate doses, turned into feeling like Christ or God and loving others so much it hurt. You see incredible things when you are manic, and Bipolars want more than anything else to share what they see with others. Come down the rabbit hole with me, says Alice.

I would spend years telling myself I was not Jesus, I was not God, I was not special. Others trained me to practice this refrain. My real healing began when I started to consider that although I may not be the Second Coming, I was special and there were big plans in store for me.

The hospital doctors started medicating me right away with Lithium and Risperdal and Trazodone and I began seeing Dr. Waldrop, who was a blessing to me and my family.

I spent about a week at Norfolk Psych, which was a dungeon compared to my next stop. I was moved to Virginia Beach Psychiatric. If Norfolk Psych was about stabilization and safety, VBP was about recuperation and community.

There were nice beds and bathrooms and ice cream at VBP. We had group therapy once a day and we met with a counselor and got to take time outside every day. I was on the “walking team” at VBP. Again, if you know anything about me you know I am competitive to a fault and thrive on a team. A handful of us walked laps around the yard every day, reveling in the sun and trees and telling ourselves that training our bodies would cleanse our minds.

I spent about two weeks at VBP, a nice vacation looking back. Good food, good sleep, good drugs, good company. A young black patient asked me for a date and for my phone number and I almost gave it to him. Remember, flattery gets you far with me. I still did not know the first thing about Bipolar, but I knew I was feeling better, more like the good old Hilary.

When I returned home to my parents’ house in Norfolk after about three weeks of hospitalization, I remember seeing crocuses sprouting in the side yard. That touched me so. I felt like I had died, or danced on the brink of death, and now I was reborn, just like the annual purple harbingers of new life. It was not a coincidence that this dark descent into a medical hell for me happened in the Lenten season. February and March always feel like a death and rebirth to me.

Notice that as I skidded into physical hell in February 2000, I also got my first brief glimpse of heaven. Heaven and hell are both part of our lives…they are not exclusive. There are no absolutes, there is no black and white. Life is not heaven or hell, at least not now. We are in suspension and can taste one while living in the other.

I took my time recovering. Mom and Dad were gentle with me. I remember my doctors told me that some Bipolars only have one episode in their lives, and I was sure I would be the very best Bipolar I could be, so my first manic break would be my last.

What the doctors never really knew for sure was among stress, insomnia, and mania, which came first. That is, did stress trigger insomnia which triggered a manic break, or did latent mania trigger insomnia? I knew that I had trouble sleeping off and on since I was very young. Post-diagnosis, I also knew Bipolar was something I was born with, and my mother and I gradually recognized that the illness sent forth some warning sallies during my adolescence.

God, to have these guys in a room together again....