RECLAIMING MY POWER: My Battle With Mental Illness

Mental

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

FOR AN UPDATE ON MY STORY, CLICKhere.

It’s no secret that the more personal I am on my blog the greater my personal gain is.

It’s almost like the deeper the wound and redder the blood the more the Gods take note and I start to reap the benefits of intense Shadow Work.

I don’t believe that the Gods are rewarding me, per se, but I do believe there is a correlation between facing oneself, speaking one’s truth and gaining freedom.

Real freedom.

The kind that can only be won by going to war with yourself.

You will know it when you experience it.

And the Universe will bow at your glory.

As much as I love writing, and love what I do, it’s hard work. It’s hard to sit down and face myself, face my thoughts, and my reflection.

It’s even more complicated when there are two sides to my being, and a constant battle raging internally.

You see, I have mental illness.

And it’s my belief that this is more a gift than curse.

I do not run from my madness anymore, and the reason for that is my practice and Shamanism (no, I am not on the Shaman path).

It was only through losing my mind that I gained any type of real perspective on life, the world or myself.

I ran into article after article, and book after book about the Shamanistic view of mental illness; the words that I read gave me power.

More than that, they granted me permission to take my power back.

I always knew I was different, such a cliché overused sentence but it really can’t be described any other way.

Although, I was able to lead a normal life until I was 25; I worked a normal job, at times I worked two jobs, and had a very active social life.

Then it all came to a screeching halt.

I have always been able to see beyond the veil and Spirits; my sight has always been available to me. I was a practicing Witch for many years, but I did not blossom until I died.

And that’s exactly what happened, I died.

Death

The old me did, anyway.

The whole mental breakdown itself happened pretty quickly and it caught not only me but my family by surprise. My Mom was the main witness to my “switch being turned on”. She said my aura changed, and I began to “vibrate” with a “dark matter”. She has even noted that my eyes, and facial features changed.

This switch of mine is usually hit because of emotional stresses, but it can be caused by low blood sugar (hangry!), anger which is more like rage, and because my fight or flight was tripped. If I am threatened that button is absolutely going to be hit.

I have come to call it my trauma trigger.

My trauma trigger is survival mode, it’s how I have survived for so long after all the abuse and pain I have experienced.

It reminds me of this quote by Ebonee Davis:

Ebonee

My mental illnesses showed up after I started to experience Chronic Pain, went through my hysterectomy and had a back injury.

Also, at the time I had recently gotten out of a physically and emotionally abusive relationship.

My life was a series of cataclysmic collisions of epic proportions.

In hindsight it seems that I experienced a soul wound because a piece of me left when I “woke up” to my true nature: chaos.

I compare myself and my world to Chaos because that’s what it is, that’s what I am;  yeah it sounds poetic but that’s really coincidence.

My mind is chaotic, my personality and my soul are too.

I am slightly neurotic, a perfectionist and obsessive about some things.

If my Cancer sun and Capricorn rising tell you anything it is that I am a contradiction, and there are literally two sides to me; I fight myself every second, of every day.

I admitted myself into a private mental health institute in 2010 and I wouldn’t change that experience, but I can tell you that I will never be locked up again.

After my little stay, I ended up being on 11 medication the ones I can remember are: Lithium, Adderrall, Risperidal, Klonopin, Minipress, Seroquel, Effexor, Abilify and Gabapentin; I can’t remember the other 2. I only remember the number being 11 because when I started to “come back to self” I noticed that 11 was a prominent awakening number, and it was the Universe’s way of telling me to snap out of the sleep society put me in.

The signs are all around us, we must know where to look.

Those medications 8 years ago are why my thyroid has shut down and I have autoimmune issues now; the stress that the medications, along with my underlying health issues caused was too much for my body.

I have heavy amounts of a specific antibody in my blood now which causes a slew of health issues (Hashimoto’s).

I also have antibodies for what is known as “drug induced Lupus”. My Rheumotologist told me that I am not currently on any medication that would cause this, and he believes it is permanent damage from before.

Why am I telling this boring fucking story?

Because I am bringing my biggest demon to light and calling it out.

I am naming it and claiming it.

Once I do this, there is nothing that anyone can use against me.

And, I want people to know they aren’t alone battling their mental illness.

I want to remove stigmas.

I want people to know:

Mental illness doesn’t make you less than.

Mental illness doesn’t make you unworthy.

Mental illness doesn’t make you unlovable.

Mental illness does not define you.

Glass

My official diagnoses are BPD 2 (Bipolar Disorder 2), PTSD, ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety (Agoraphobia, General Anxiety and Social Anxiety).

I have done every type of therapy imaginable, and still to this day must manage myself with routine, coping skills, and mindfulness practices. My Spirituality has helped me tremendously as well.

Doctor’s didn’t help me, they drugged me and those poisons put in my body have damaged it permanently. I have been medication free, other than herbal supplements, for 5 years now.

Just because I do not (cannot) take medication does not mean I am anti-medication for everyone. I believe that modern medicine has its place, and I believe fully in the power of the right combination of medicine; it just wasn’t how my story was meant to be written.

When dealing with your health always listen to your body, always listen to your gut.

And, make sure you have an Advocate who can speak LOUDLY if necessary for you when/if Doctor’s and the system try to intimidate you.

Throughout the whole breakdown/awakening my life was in an uproar and I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt WORSE as time went by; then I started to become aware of the (serious) medication side effects.

The constant brain fog, sleep disturbances, weight gain, mood imbalances, etc. were unbearable.

I went through the worst withdrawal’s getting off those medications, and a majority were done at home. I did however seek out professional help for the benzo withdrawals because those are dangerous to come off alone.

My decision to detox at home was absolutely not a safe thing to do and I don’t recommend it, but the medical world had let me down, and I was not going to turn to them. I did my research, and then shut myself in my room and battled through; I had family around just in case.

And, again, I don’t recommend anyone going off their meds (it’s usually a sign of a manic episode to want to discontinue meds, but that was not the case for myself).

I let my Psychiatrist know what I was doing, after the fact, or well, during the act, but at that point there was not much he could do. I was never considered a threat to myself, or others, therefore I could not be forced to do anything. I was of sound mind and body.

My Doctor was the best, too.  He gave me a lot of my power back because it was through him that I found my way to discovering how mental illness is viewed in the Spiritual world.

If he had not pointed me in this direction I would be dead, and there is no doubt in my mind about that.

I didn’t write about this sooner because it’s a hard topic to talk about but also because I thought people would think less of me; that my word and wisdom would no longer be taken seriously (if it even is now) and all the negativity attached to mental illness would at once become attached to me, and that was a weight I could not bear.

So, I ran from it, but now I own it.

My mental illness does not define me; my power resides in my madness.

There is a fine line between sane and insane when it comes to this path, and I like to play jump rope with that line.

Two things I learned most from being mentally ill:

1. Change your perspective, change your life.

2. Crazy is relative.

Here is one of my favorite mental health articles:

http://themindunleashed.org/2014/08/shaman-sees-mental-hospital.html

Tips for the Modern Witch

luis cardenas

Image: Luis Cardenas

“Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple.”

Natalie Babbitt


I have been receiving messages asking me about how formal Magick should be, and what my opinion is on formalities when dealing with my personal craft. I think the question is an interesting one, but I also think the question is a personal one. For me, I have learned the most about my own Philosophy and practice/craft from others. I like to tweak things a bit and make them my own, but I think we can learn a ton from each other. The greatest gift that we can give each other besides respect, is knowledge. We don’t have to agree, but planting the seed of thought alone can blossom into another branch of thought.

I want you to know that Magick is supposed to be personal, and yes formal Magick with rituals, drum circles, and fires are a beautiful sight but not all of us have ways to practice like this. I have seen other Witches feel down on themselves because they can’t practice with elaborate formalities.

I think it’s wrong, and I think the issue needs to be addressed.

First of all, we cannot compare ourselves to anyone, especially other Witches. Some of us were blessed to live in the woods, and have the gifts of nature and the freedom to dance under the moon light sky clad. While others were blessed to live in an urban jungle where we are forced to practice in cramped apartments, using our ingenuity. Some of us were blessed with having a deep rooted Pagan/Witch family, and are brought up in the craft. Some of us were blessed with having deep connections to Brothers and Sisters of Magick, and have found comfort, unity, and stability with a Coven.

None of these options are better, or worse than the other, we are all blessed, and we are all Witches. There should be no competition, no jealousy, and no betrayal within our community, the outside world has let us down enough.

So, with that said, my Magick is extremely informal, and it is 50% intuition, and 50% skill I have learned in my years of practice. I think sometimes my ancestors are rolling their eyes on the other side at just how informal my Magick is, I am sure I get a few eye rolls from the deities I work with, too.

My Magick has never been about ritual, just like my Philosophy has never been about worship. I do not necessarily wait for a Moon Phase if I need to cast, if the spell can wait until a particular phase that would be suited for my needs, I will wait, but if it is something that needs to be handled: a person, situation, binding, manifesting, whatever it may be, I will go by my own will, my own heart and my own senses.

I do not cast a traditional circle, and I do use Spirits in almost all of my workings. But, I do not need protection from deities to practice, I use them because it makes me feel better at times when they are there. It is my opinion that if you can only cast under the protection of guardians, or guides then you shouldn’t be practicing Magick at all.

I do not have a bunch of fancy tools, I have what I am drawn to. So, let me give you some examples of the items I personally always have on hand.

I like to represent life, and death. I have plants in my room to represent life, and I have dried flowers, feathers from birds (living and dead), nails from a coffin (circa the 1800’s) both rusty and in good condition (rusty nails are a prime ingredient for War Water)–rusty nails from a coffin are an even better option for this water.

So, for that simple fact alone, I keep them handy. All of these items represent an aspect of death. I also have bones, and a pair of antlers on the way.

Moon water is also always on hand, this is water that has been charged by moonlight. You add coarse sea salt to it, I like pink Himalayan salt better, personally. I also have a few vials that have rose petals inside, and others with specific herbs for specific purposes. I think Moon water aka Witches Holy Water is a great tool, and you can even put it inside of a spray bottle, and use it as a way to cleanse a space. Works great for kids, or a modern Witch who doesn’t like fuss.

Herbs are a another simple, and easy tool to have. When I started working with herbs, it was a slow process; I now grow my own, and even forage at times, or I will buy locally.

At first though, to get the herbs I needed for my Magickal stock I went to the grocery store, and a farmer’s market. Most grocery stores sell rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, lavender and many others right in the produce section, just make sure it is labeled ‘certified organic’.

When you bring it home, tie a piece of thread or yarn at the base of the stems, and hang them upside down for a few days so that they can dry out. I store my dried herbs in mason jars; some are antique mason jars, but some are from Target, they are 2 for $1 there. Can’t beat a bargain.

Another thing I always have on hand is resin, and incense. I am new to burning resin, but nothing has cleared my home better. I like frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, damaru pattu, and benzoin. With these particular resin’s it is easy to create my own, too.

As for incense sticks, Nag Champa is a necessity, but it must be the blue box, anything else is overwhelming, and like a strong, obnoxious perfume.

Some other random tools I like to always have on hand are dragon’s blood ink, essential oils, a mirror for scrying, along with multiple pendulum’s, multiple tarot decks, mortar and pestle, sage: both loose, and in stick form, sea shells, candles: white and black, and a few colors: red, pink, yellow, green, and orange, flying ointments, banishing salt, a broom (mine is a small besom) Witches Ball, Witch bells and of course crystals.

I think crystals are my favorite part of my Magick. I enchant each of the pieces I wear, so along with the metaphysical properties of the crystal, I have my own Power amplifying the energy. I have crystals throughout my home, and bedroom, too. Some even have sigils draw on them, simple yet effective.

Some of my personal favorites are Jet, Labradorite, Yellow Jasper, Black Tourmaline, Selenite, Moonstone, Citrine, Sodalite, Lapis Lazuli, Amethyst, Apache Tear, Obsidian (all kinds, really), Celestite, Emerald, Garnet, Kyanite, Nuummite, Smoky and Tourmilinated Quartz.

Crystals are a great tool, and can be worn on the body, put in your purse/man bag, put in your car, under your pet’s bed (as long as you know they will not eat it). I mean, the possibilities are endless with crystals and for me, nothing makes me feel safer than an enchanted piece of jewelry.

I do suggest starting with some easier to handle stones than the ones I mentioned, and I also would suggest The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall. I personally have both of her bibles, but you really only need the first. It will tell you what crystals do what, and how to cleanse and care for them. It also goes over geodes, tumbled, and raw, and what the differences are. I highly recommend this book for any, and all crystal lovers, newbie or advanced.

I do not have formal rituals robes, a huge ornate altar, or a place I can go be one with nature; I live in an urban jungle, I must adapt to my surroundings, bring the Magick to me, and look for the little gifts from nature like sticks, flowers, and rocks that present themselves to me.

Magick is its most potent, most powerful when it is personal, true, and real to YOU.

Don’t compare, and don’t conform.

Blessed are the Witches.