Sunday, November 10, 2013

Step into the sun, step into the light: The Wizard of Oz

Lots of great songs from the Wizard of Oz but this might be my favorite, which is possibly the shortest:

"You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open

You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
March up to the gate and bid it open, open"

The "glorious place" is the most hopeful, happy, peaceful place I have ever been: Heaven on Earth.  I may have been there through manic episodes, but I know it's real, and I truly believe I can share it with all of you.  People like the neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven, have been there too, and the chorus of people with evidence of Heaven is growing louder.  We're all trying to explain how we got there and how you can get there too.

The Wizard of Oz is a metaphor, I believe.  Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow are all of us on our personal quests to find the light and the truth.  The Witch is our doubts and fears, everything that makes us feel small and scared.  The Witch is organized religion.  She rules with an iron grip.

The Great and Powerful Oz is the God we have become acquainted with in the Monotheistic Age.  He leads us to believe he is omniscient and omnipotent, and he scares us with his power.  Our quest is to find him, be with him, learn from him.  We feel that we need him to rule over us.  We feel we need him to be real.  But he is not.

He is the man behind the curtain.  When Dorothy pleads with him to have some compassion after he terrifies and tortures the Cowardly Lion, he just bellows commands and sends them on another quest, to kill the witch and bring back her broom stick.  "Killing in the name of God..."  Their long journey through the land of Oz was not enough for God.  That's the problem with God, you can try your whole life to find him and be close to him and still not find him.  And he keeps raising the bar: never forget you are a sinful human....stay scared and in the dark and small in his shadow....but search a little harder and try a little harder to be a better person each day.  And you just might see the "real God" in the end.

So Dorothy figures out he is really a human, just like us.  He becomes more like a dear friend when he is humanized.  Oz becomes the answer to her prayers when she unveils him, because she sees her humanness in him.  She finds out that she is really as Godly and full of potential and hope as any "God" there is.  We are the Gods, we are the masters of our fate and the ones who tend the flame of hope in our hearts.  All of the citizens of Oz practiced obedience to a myth, and as long as they feared him, they stayed in their place.  But when the myth was revealed, the four sojourners fulfilled their wildest dreams.

Glinda, the Good Witch, put it best to Dorothy:  When Dorothy asks for her help Glinda says "you don't need to be helped any always had the power (to go back to Kansas)."  The Scarecrow asks Glinda why she didn't tell Dorothy that before, and Glinda says "because she wouldn't have believed me; she had to learn it herself."

The power, the light, the love, the untapped is all right there in your heart already.  You don't need a God to show you the way.  When you realize humans are the Gods, you return home to the Eden that existed before we invented him.  It is the ultimate return to the throne.  It took me ten years to realize that God was not a personality, but Love Triumphant and Supreme.

The Wizard says "Remember my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved in return."  The trick is not giving unconditional love, as is prescribed by the Monotheistic God of our modern religions, but to RECEIVE unconditional love from others.  True love is allowing yourself to love you as much as others do.  To RECEIVE and BELIEVE the love others shower on you.  We love each other so much, but we doubt it all the time.  We don't think we are good enough to deserve perfect love.  We have been taught from birth we are stained, we are sinners, so how can we ever love as was intended?  Set aside the God construct, and love becomes a tidal wave, and you can't help loving others as much as they love you.

We can all walk out of the darkness and into the light.  It's right there waiting for us, right in front of our veiled eyes.  The light is breaking over this dark world, and soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Girl in the Mirror

I’m on the recovery road from a recent brief manic episode.  Resulted from lack of sleep due to kids waking up a lot, and change of seasons, and a few other things.  Back in business though!

This weekend, though, I had a really great conversation with a good friend.  We talked about my philosophy about us being the Gods, and heaven coming when religion as we know it is over.  She is a Christian but bless her heart, she had the patience and caring to listen to my perspective.  She really asked a lot of questions, which is all I long for.  A chance to be heard. 

So I had too much wine that night and was a little emotional.  I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and found myself tearing up when I looked in the mirror.  I just looked at myself and said plaintively, “Please, please let me know there is a reason for all of this.  Please let me know there is a point for all I have done….the hard work on the book, putting myself and my revolutionary ideas on the line, risking my family’s reputation, risking (and experiencing) rejection, going through the emotions of becoming public with my illness.”  “Please someone or something out there show me a sign that it’s worth it, and my vision will someday come to pass.”  In the old days you I would have prayed to God, but that night I just put my faith and energy directly into my own soul while I looked at myself in the mirror.  We, the Gods.  “Then through a glass darkly, now face to face.”

Well, yesterday, my mother-in-law told me her friend, who is Southern Baptist, had read my book, straight through.  I was worried about what he would say.  She said his quote was “You know, she had some interesting and different ideas.  It made me think about things differently.  The truth may not be what we think.”  She told him she really believed I had seen something special when I walked in Heaven.  They had a good discussion.

Well, hot damn!  That was the answer to my supplication.  My effort is worthwhile.  If 99 Baptists say I am blasphemous but 1 says it made him think differently, I have achieved my goal.  It made my heart sing. 

I’m not in it to make money.  I’m in it to get people to think and question and consider some other answers to life’s questions.  I’m in it to report on just what I saw, as clear as I can.  And when I asked for help in the mirror from a greater power, it responded.  The girl in the mirror: My God, By God.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

12 Monkeys

Great movie.  Bruce Willis as a hero time-traveler with a touch of schizoaffective disorder who can save the world, if he can distinguish what's crazy and what's not.  The best line comes from Madeleine Stowe as a psychiatrist: "I mean, psychiatry: it's the latest religion.  We decide what's right and wrong.  We decide who's crazy or not.  I'm in trouble here.  I'm losing my faith."

How can you say what's crazy and what's inspirational?  The prophets would all be classified as crazy today.  What if someone came to save the world and we stuck them in a straitjacket?  The "mentally ill" have sensitive brain circuitry that seems to open windows that are closed for most people.  In ancient times the mentally ill were shamans, or visionaries.  What was Joseph Smith?  What if we listened to the visions and considered they may offer guideposts in a world which is often times too mired in realism, routine, drudgery and dispassion.  We are automatons without the fireworks of the mentally ill. 

I've walked in Heaven, I've been to the future, I've brought back answers.  Will I be thought crazy for trying to lead us to a better place?  Will I be banished because I dispute organized religion?

"Cassandra, in Greek legend, was condemned to know the future but to be disbelieved when she foretold it.  Hence the agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it."

That's the problem.  Will I have wasted my life if no one believes me? 

See the visions and the path to heaven in my book, Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney Talks Mania, Recovery, and Heaven on Earth. Amazon

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book for sale!

My book launched this week!  It is for sale on Amazon and is called "Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney talks Mania, Recovery, and Heaven on Earth."  It takes you places you can only imagine....a manic state, a psychiatric ward, Heaven on Earth. 

It's been 13 years since my diagnosis and hospitalization.  I've tried a dozen medications and more doctors and therapists, but I always knew I could find a way out.  I am now a wife, mother, and attorney and I have painted my canvas with broad beautiful strokes. 

Bipolars, please don't think that taking medication will temper your glow.  It may take a while to find the right recipe but when you do you can be bigger and better than even your manic state.  Treatment is a must. 

My book might sound like it is a Christian book, what with the Heaven on Earth in the title.  On the contrary, as the problems that have plagued our religions for centuries revealed themselves to me, I knew that I was not a Christian.  I think when religion ends we will truly inherit the promised land.  Heaven is coming soon, for all of us.  My book shares the revelations about the end of religion that I brought back from Heaven.

When I say I have Graduated from God, it's sort of semantics.  I have really become one with him.  I look in the mirror and it's him looking back at me.  "Through a glass darkly, then face to face."  Assumption of God is the very closest relationship you can have with him, and when we realize we are the Gods, we will be reunited with him finally and it will be very good.  He has been waiting with bated breath for us to make this realization, but it is up to us. 

I hope you enjoy the book and continue to read this blog.  Follow me on twitter (hilchaney) or on Facebook. 

Here's a link to the book on Amazon:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A giant love

So last night Nathan and I got angry with 4 year-old River more than usual.  He wasn't really being a bad kid, he was just testing a bit.  So he got a time-out or two and a threat to cancel his birthday party.  (Cruel, right?)

Anyway, after one of these punishments, he came into our bedroom with the book I Love You, Daddy.  He said "This is what I think of for you and Daddy and Carter.  I love you all."

I didn't appreciate how remarkable this was until a few minutes later.  Then I went and hugged him as hard as I could and told him he had figured out how to love better than anybody I knew.

To be able to turn love, giant love, right back on someone who has reprimanded you . . . now that is something.  He didn't stew or hold a grudge or pitch a fit.  He just thought back to the building block of our family, and how love makes him feel.  I think love is the most inexhaustible, energy-rich, renewable resource we have, and it can diffuse any situation.  It can turn enemies into protectors and defenders.  For River to get this already at age 4 is amazing.  But the thing is, I KNOW he wasn't even trying to mollify us.  He wasn't saying he loved us to get out of trouble or win over our good side.  He was just saying what he felt.  It was pure.

I knew when River was born I wanted to raise him in an areligious family.  No guilt, no hell or judgment, no inexplicable ghosts named God.  I wanted to fill him with love instead of myths.  I thought if I could do that I might create a child who could change the world.  I thought maybe River could be the one to end religion, if he wanted to.

My one hesitation was that he wouldn't know about morality.  With no threat of punishment from God, how would he know what was right?  That's what the orthodox will tell you . . . a world without religion would be a world without morals.  But it seems, with last night's moment, that he has transcended the Christian way.  Instead of doing right because he is scared of living in hell or disappointing God, instead of living like a rat with a carrot and a stick in front of you, he fell back on love, the only law we need.

I've been writing in this blog for three years, trying to get out the message that heaven on earth will arrive when religion is over.  That there is no God above us, only Love.  That there is no hell and will be no armageddon or judgment day.  That we are born perfect and aglow in love, and only when we are preached fear do we lose that glow.  That we don't need to do anymore perfecting or atoning or praying to go to heaven on earth; we all get to go and there's no admission fee.  I've written a whole book about this which I will publish this summer.

But River made me see all the words, all the 73 posts on this blog, may be simply clutter.  The heart is where to start, and he gets it.  What a proud mother I am.  We are doing the right thing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Suppression of Self

The preaching religions have long espoused the suppression of the self. The book The World’s Religions by Huston Smith gives a wonderful overview of our religions. When I read the book it became clear that the common thread of the major religions is this suppression of self.

As for Hinduism, he says “Every act done without thought for myself diminishes my self-centeredness until finally no barrier remains to separate me from the Divine,” The World’s Religions, p. 38. To be self-centered is to be apart from God, according to Hinduism. But loving yourself glorifies the divinity God placed in you, and nothing could please God more. 

Smith repeats the dictum from Hinduism’s holy book, the Bhagavad-Gita: “To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof,” p. 40. This angle has you doing everything in this life for God, and not reaping any reward for self. In my view this is completely backwards, and cuts against what we are born thinking.

On to Buddhism: Smith explains that Buddhists revile ego as a “secret sore,” or a “strangulated hernia,”p. 102-3. Buddhism decries Tanha, or the “specific desire for private fulfillment,” p. 102. I just don’t see fulfillment of your gifts as something shameful. We exit the womb bent on self-preservation and aglow in self-love. Trying to reverse nature by decrying pride in yourself has put us in a straitjacket. We are perfect and exude divine potential, and when we see this, the world will be made anew.

The Confucian Book of Li states that “Pride should not be indulged. The will should not be gratified to the full. Pleasure should not be carried to excess,” p. 175. Again, this religion suppresses self and free will.

Smith states that the sacred text of Islam, the Koran, “proclaim[s] the unity, omnipotence, omniscience, and mercy of God—and correlatively the total dependence of human life upon Him,” p. 234. There is no life without God, teaches Islam. Never forget how small you are in his shadow.

Judaism, Smith contends, is based on a covenant with God, or as he describes it, a “pledging of total selves,” p. 306. He cites Exodus 19:4-6:
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.”

So here, God owns the whole earth, and he expects complete obedience from us, as his possessions. The most we can ever hope to be is a prized possession, gathering dust in His trophy case. Where the Jews were once slaves to Egypt, they are now simply slaves to a new master: God.

And finally, Christianity: Smith talks of Jesus as “free of pride” … “a man in whom the human ego had disappeared,” p. 328-9. Jesus minimizes his own self when he says “Why do you call me good? Don’t you know that only God is good?” The man we are supposed to emulate always practiced being a servant to others and putting God first. “The meek, they shall inherit the earth.” Hide that light, temper your glow.

I recall a story my husband Nathan told me about a Christian summer camp he went to. He won the “Me Third” award, which meant he put God first and others second, and then himself last. This is the Christian way: your Self is an afterthought.

I believe we can all agree we live in a far from perfect world. With tragedies like Newtown, Massachusetts and Columbine and 9/11, it is easy to subscribe to the saying that “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” It seems hopeless, and the road to Heaven seems as far away as it was thousands of years ago. And thousands of years ago we didn’t have suicide bombers and baby killers. So if the religions have failed to deliver us to the promised land (and in fact seem to be carrying us farther away by day), why not find their common thread and see it as the common problem? Maybe they’ve all got this ego thing backwards. Maybe you are really better than the religions ever allow you to be, and denying that truth is why we live in hell on earth. Maybe love of self as the key to finding Heaven on Earth is the single most important thing you can take from this book.

I’m not the first one to the dance in terms of this concept. None other than Nelson Mandela assessed the importance of profound self-love:
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. All of us. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Who else will shine your light for you? If not you, then who? Why not you?
Why can’t you be the next great thing? Why can’t you light the world? Shouldn’t our religion empower and embolden us to be the best we can be? Not to hide our light under a bushel?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

To be called

I was at bible study tonight (I know that doesn't sound like my thing but I am so interested in all religious perspectives and I think it hones my own post-religion message), and the topic was how to know when you're called to do something with your life.  Who's doing the calling?  When does it happen?  How do I know if I am being called?  What do I do when it happens?  Can I still be called if I don't believe in god (YES!)

I think we all have a path and a purpose. No, I don't think there's a god above us directing the show but I think there is something Important and worthy for each of us to do. I was at sea for years, both before and after my bipolar diagnosis, not knowing how I would make my mark. I was always in a rush to find the calling and worried I would miss the boat if I wasn't paying attention. I would look up at the sun or moon, much like many of you look to god, and say please help me see, open my eyes to my truth and light. And finally after a lot of rushing around in my 20's I learned to say:

"Slow down Hilary.  Don't rush it. It will come to you in due course.  It will come to you."  And some great peace came over me (about the same time I stopped believing in god).  And I could literally see the synchronicity of my future and see how my calling would arise from and complement beautifully my other pursuits: being a mom, a wife, an attorney, a mental illness survivor. But I HAD to tend to all those things and diligently plant seeds not knowing when the harvest would come. I had to "ride the pine" until the coach called my number.

And now I have been called. And it hits you like a lightning bolt, but it's warm, not white hot, and gradual, and awfully familiar.  It's like you've known it your whole life but never saw it coming.  It's empowering and sustaining and awesome in nature.

I'm going to be a mental health advocate and speaker. I've already given my motivational talk to one group and have plans to continue speaking to other groups.  I've been asked to write about it. I've fielded mental health crisis calls.  I am filling a void in a world desperate for truthful unabashed voices on mental illness.  And people are listening.  And asking for more.  Doing what I care most about for a living is a gift.  I truly believe this gift is out there for all of us but there is no rush. It may happen when you are 15 or 37 or 82.  But plant those seeds and keep letting light in and it will come.  It will all make sense. It will come.

Please contact me if you would like more information or have a group you would like me to speak to. My talk is titled "Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney talks mania, recovery, and heaven on earth".

P.S. I am by no means giving up my career as an attorney. I love it and I'll keep trying to knock it out of the park at the Chaney Law Firm in Arkadelphia.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tools and Tips for Mental Health

After 13 years, I have developed some tools or tricks to help battle my Bipolar Disorder.  Here ya go:

1)  The first thing is called a Mental Toolbox.  This is a collection of things I can do if I feel like I am spinning out of control or falling into a depression.  For me it's things like getting outside, getting exercise, seeing my therapist, talking to a friend, journaling, listening to music, etc.  I just flip through these tools mentally and find one that fits my situation and go with it.  If I get through three or four and nothing works over a few days, then it's definitely time to see my psychiatrist.  It helps me to always know a doctor or nurse at my clinic is available on the phone 24/7.  My mom knows all about my Mental Toolbox and if she is concerned about my mental state she will remind me to try the Toolbox.  It really helps to have some shared language between you and your family.  Bywords that you both are familiar with help to focus on the problem.

2)  It used to be that with the slightest sign of mania I would call my psychiatrist and see if I needed to change my medications.  We've both figured out this is not the best course all the time.  You don't always know the nature of the problem if you don't give it a few days to see what's really going on.  A knee jerk reaction to up the Risperdal or lower the Lamictal may not be what you need.  There can be a lot of external factors that cause a blip on your mental health radar.  I think about whether I've been eating too much or too little, whether I have had to stay up late or wake up in the middle of the night with the kids.  Whether I have been drinking too much.  What time of the menstrual cycle I am in (my excellent psychiatrist specializes in women's mental illness and is well-versed in the effects your cycle can have on your mental state).  Whether it's a full moon (seriously!).  Whether I am having a personal or financial problem.  There are usually things going on outside my brain that are causing a change in how I feel.  It's a good idea to evaluate those triggers before reaching for the pillbox.  I can now recognize what part of Bipolar I am feeling after a day or two.  If it gets better by using something in my Toolbox, then I don't need to adjust my meds.  I've grown comfortable with waiting it out for a few days because each time something scary starts to happen I grow more confident in how I deal with it.  I've become very in tune with my illness and it's symptoms. 

3) A quick coping test for me is this:  I say "Has anything changed in my life since last week when I didn't feel this agitated, phobic, paranoid, or manic?"  I think about whether there have been big changes in my finances, my work, my kids, my interpersonal relationships, my marriage, my in-laws or the like.  If none of those have really changed since last week, I know my anxiety is purely chemical, a pure distortion in my brain, a true chemical imbalance.  This forces me to calm down and think before I make a big (and potentially regrettable) decision in the aforementioned areas.  It also tells me I do need to make a change in my dosages, with my psychiatrist's help.  It's hard to tell sometimes what is normal mood change that anyone would feel and what's bipolar, and asking this question really helps.  Meds really do fix your brain.  And quick. 

4)  My illness is organic and it changes.  As I get stronger so does it, and it finds alternate disguises and new ways to chip away at me.  It helped me when I analogized it to a video game, like old school Zelda or Donkey Kong.  Through great effort and sometimes repeated failure, I would finally figure out how to "beat a level" or beat the enemy in one level of the game.  I would unlock the door to the next level and a new enemy or a new kind or test would await on the next screen.  It gives me a chance to feel proud of beating the first level of the Bipolar game, but guards me against getting complacent in the face of my illness as the next challenge is literally right around the corner.  Mental illness is the dragon that never sleeps.  It started out, when I was hospitalized for three weeks, that I could not make any headway in the game, and seemed to fall back to square one if I ever did.  Now I gain more ground that I lose, and that will be true for all life-long sufferers of this chronic disease. 

The bottom line is that there is lots you can do on your own to fight this thing, but you are never alone.  We can help each other get healthy every single day.  Be brave.  Share your story and you are bound to help someone else who is struggling. 

Happy Friday Bright Lights!


Friday, January 4, 2013


I heard an oldie but goodie today.  Ironic by Alanis Morissette.  "It's like a black fly in your chardonnay, ten thousands spoons when all you need is a knife, meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his Beautiful wife..."  Isn't it ironic.  It's about the things that go wrong just when you most want them to go right.  Today was the opposite kind of day for me. 

A green light day.  When things run, for the most part, just like they should.  Most of the time those days mean I am trending toward mania.  I feel good, and I immediately have to think (I have been trained to think), do I feel TOO good?  Should I take more meds to un-good how I feel?  Isn't that a sad way to have to think about happiness.  Never mind, it's just how bipolars have to think. 

Anyway, I didn't sleep as well a few days last week.  I was over-saturated with holiday wine and food and year-end worries.  I was getting a cold.  I was getting paranoid about little things.  All of these things were warning signs.  Thanks to great poise and counsel from Nathan, and with the aid of a couple extra lorazepam, I came off the ledge and got back to normal.  What's left though is a nice feeling of synchronicity with the world.  When this usually happens I tend toward the hyperreligious and get all preachy about the end of religion.  I think a lot about heaven.  I get going too fast and high and have a car accident or lock myself out of the house or drop a kid on his head.  There was a hint of that a few days ago but I slowed down and willed myself to be within myself and it seems to have passed. 

So today:  I ran out of my risperdal and there was a delay with the doctor getting the new prescription but it came through just before the pharmacy closed, so I don't have to go without it this weekend.  I saw four dear friends with great big smiles on their faces and had really touching conversations with them.  I was just putting my four year old's dinner on the table as he came into the dining room and said "I'm hungry."  He has started the basics of reading and we played freeze tag and hopscotch in the sun.  His grandmother met us at the park and watch as he helped my one year old son slide down the slide for the first time.  The baby has started signing "all done" and saying "thank you."  My husband helped me clean up the kitchen.  I uploaded some work files to the social security website just before the close of business.  Both kids napped.  Etc etc etc. 

BUT, then also we had an explosive diaper.  I spilled water all over the newly varnished table.  And my one year old has not gone to bed yet at 10:08.  So not everything went as perfect as you please, which makes me know I am staying healthy and arresting mania.  There is a lot of love in this family today and the good things about being a wife and mom are all in place.  It's a 95 out of 100 day, and that's as good as I could ever want it to be. 

Best to all of you.  Hil

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