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Dear reader, I hope you will feel I have given you some insight into the experience of journeying from mental stability into complete mental instability. This was my aim, but I have found along the way that the need to be brief and to the point means I can not fully explore the intricacies of the experience as I would like. Furthermore, my decision to exclude retrospect means that I cannot touch on the discussions I would like to have about this experience. This has led me to feel a certain sadness and a conflict whilst writing. Therefore I have had to make the tough call of ending this series now. I have decided to race you on through to what we will have to call the end.
Thanks for coming with me this far, it has been a challenge but also extremely giving for me to share this with you. I feel that in sharing this story with those of you who come to read this blog, I will now feel in a better position to share the articles that are derived from the book I am working on. Now you have more context perhaps it will give a richer experience when reading my texts on mental health.
The Narrative grows
North Carolina could of been another lovely experience in a life that gives many gifts of goodness. It could of been a nice few weeks spent at a voluntary project. That is what I had expected, that is why I had written to them in the first place. Yet, in those weeks, strange things moved inside of me, very strange things. The time for the volcano to erupt was upon me. Up until this point, the narrative that I had created to explain my feelings had been pretty simple. I was opening up and I was letting go of the past. I was opening up to the wild possibilities of life. That was it in a nutshell. It was wild but it had not reached the point of totally unhealthy. Now though it was time for delusion to arrive.
Life with Brianne and Dave consisted of waking up for the morning fire, sitting in silence as the sun came up and then getting on with the day to day routines and tasks. As well as working on practical things at the house. Brianne and Dave also were connected with a Shamanic/Buddhist in the area who was running meditations at their house. I attended her first session and while being touched by her teachings, I had a strong feeling she wasnt seeing me for who I was, that she did not understand why I was there. I had an immediate feeling that I had finally found my teacher and that soon she would realize the same thing. I felt frustrated after the first session and enquired when the next meeting would be. There would be a fire ceremony on the full moon which was in a pair of days, I decided I had to go. It felt very, very important.
It was at this point I met another important character, Leah. We met eyes during the meditation and I felt a certainty that something profound was going to occur with her. I Wasnt wrong.
The days in between the meditation and the fire ceremony were spent working on odd jobs, playing music and being entertained by my wonderful hosts. They showed me the local area and introduced me to people I would come to know during my time there. Brianne introduced me to her healing machines and i spent time laying in the calming room as the machines massaged my muscles, shook my legs around and warmed my body. It was all part of a process for me. All this pain I told myself, is finally being released from my body. I have finally found the place where I feel at home, I am around these machines because it is finally time to release all of the things that have been hurting my soul. I had the same affirmation and narrative with almost every nice thing and person I was meeting. It was meant to happen, it was happening because it was time. Time for my big shift. I was playing more music because I was finally connecting with who I truly was. The chord sequences sounded so good because I was tapping into something more pure. When I would join Brianne and Dave in the morning for their fires, I reasoned that I was tuning in more and more with my true self, finally living the life I was meant to. Every morning and every fire built up this feeling of aliveness and electricity. It felt as if nature itself was egging me on, each sunrise intensifying the fire that was burning in me.
It was cold out as we arrived in the forest for the full moon ceremony. I did not know what to expect, I was nervous and excited at the same time. We arrived early and as we waited for the other guests to arrive we walked around collecting sticks for the fire. We were a small circle of around eight people, it was dark, my feet were cold but the fire warmed the rest of me. I saw through the flickering fire the same woman I had seen at the meditation. Leah. I knew something was very important about this moment, something was going to happen.
The shaman talked about the stars and of the messages in the movements of the planets and we all glanced up at the sky as she spoke. Every word she spoke appeared to be very significant, to be packed with meaning. I felt like I was tripping out on something. The power of the ceremony felt very intense to me. It felt like the kind of thing I should of been doing my whole life.
After some stories about the sky and the stars, each person was invited to take two sticks. You should take the first stick and stand with it, channelling or thinking into it all the things you wanted to let go of, those things that did not serve you in life any more, whatever was holding you back. You would then throw this into the fire as all the people around the circle supported you in the act. The next stick, was your intentions for the future which you would channel into the stick and then throw into the fire. I watched as the people performed their part of the ceremony and waited anxiously for my turn. I felt like crying. This ceremony was just what I needed. It fit so much with the direction I was on, it was too convenient to be a coincidence. I was most certainly destined to be here with these people and I was meeting my destiny because I had dared to.
It was finally my turn. Someone stood behind me and held my shoulders as i leant down with my first stick. I sat there and felt all the pain I could feel inside of me. I thought about my family and the struggles and hardships involved, I thought about those I had hurt and how I had been hurt. I thought about trauma, frustration, dissatisfaction, I though about my heart break about the state of the world. I thought about so many things in what felt like the blink of an eye and with every ounce of energy I could muster I sent it all into the stick. I didnt want it anymore, I did not want all that hard, sad, confusing stuff so I sent it into the stick and through it into the fire.
The second stick was more confusing. What was my intention now. How should I know. I knew I wanted to welcome love into my life. So i sent that into the stick. I also knew I wanted the big change I felt coming to come as soon as possible, so I sent that into the stick. I want to give, I want to love, I want to find out who I really am, I want to be completely open, I want to heal. I sent it into the stick with as much intensity as I could find in my soul and I cast the stick into the flames, watching the smoke rise into the air and mix with the nights sky. It all happened so silently but in my body and mind the noise was deafening. As the ceremony ended I felt drunk and confused, I felt like I had been hit with a hammer around the head. I felt like I had just done something extremely beautiful and extremely dangerous and I loved it.
In Between the work and the spiritual gatherings I was busy on just about anything other than relaxing. I played music late into the night, started writing manifestos on how I should live my life and headed out to bars stoked up with energy. Even at this point, I wasnt talking to anyone directly about what was going on. I was simply embracing the results of it. It wasn’t until I went to find Leah that I really had someone to talk to about what was happening to me. I would talk with Brianne about some of my feelings and she would tell me that everyone who came through the house was experiencing strong changes. She would also tell me that the area was full of strong energies, that the mountains have magic within them. This kind of stuff, I know now, was not part of some magical manifesto, but it was simply a wonderful woman trying to support someone on their journey with their own beautiful, grounded outlook. But for me it was like rocket fuel. She would tell me how she spoke with the animals, and how there was a faerie ring and the bottom of the garden. She told me she wasnt allowed there, but she had a feeling I was. This kind of narrative was very appealing to me. Of course the fairies wanted to speak to me, they knew what was happening and wanted to support me.
After the ceremony I started to feel like the whole of nature was conspiring to make something huge happen. When the wind blew at night it was weaving intricate patterns around me, the ceremony was actually a magical happening and now I was going to find out what real magic did. One night I headed out of the hut and tied up all the wind chimes, A part of me could feel that their eerie noises were whispering things I also did not really want to hear.
The Stone Bringer
(Moldavite, a stone I used to excel my apparent enlightenment process )
A few days later, The shaman was having another talk. We drove up to some spiritual centre where it was happening and I stood in the lobby looking around. Once again, there was Leah, taking donations on the door. I said a brief hello and entered the room where the talk was to be.
I dont remember so many details of the talk, because my memory fades, but also because it was such an intense experience for me. I do remember her talking about different ways that people suffer and of work people can do to change this. I remember being deeply touched, I remember my throat tightening and i began to have a panic attack. I got up off my chair and sat down in the back of the room. A huge pain began to form in my back and a pressure grew and grew until all of a sudden I burst. I began sobbing there on the floor. I didn’t hold a bit of it back, I just let myself cry. As I remember it the room went quiet for a small 40 seconds during the most intense part of my cry and then as things calmed down in my body the talk continued. I felt extremely confused. Why was I feeling this way? Was it part of the magic of the ceremony? Was this part of the process? Why would i suddenly feel so bad if I had let everything go? I got back up and sat on my chair. “Do you want to leave?” Brianne asked. “No, im okay” I replied and i continued to listen.
“Some people have a problem with self inflation and self degradation, they yo yo back and forth between these two perspectives” she explained. “Would it be fair to suggest you struggle with this Sam?” the shaman asked suddenly. I nodded my head meekly and jotted down what she was saying. It is ironic that as I agreed, I did not see that I was in that moment going through exactly what she was describing. After the talk i went and sat by the piano. I had a brief moment of clarity take over me. Brianne came over and asked If I was okay. “Something really weird is going on” I told her. She agreed with me that it was so and we could talk when we got home. I tinkled a bit of melancholy music on the piano and felt like I was melting. It felt as though a huge explosion had just occurred in my body. “What is happening to me?”, “Something isnt right” I began to think. At that moment Leah approached silently. We met eyes and i felt like she was looking right through me. She gave me two stones, one in each hand and said “You should sleep with these, they will ground you” I felt so grateful, I felt a deep sense of love for this person who I had only just met, we hugged and then everybody started to leave. That night I slept with the stones and I woke up better but still shaken. I discussed with my hosts if I should go to the hospital. I told them I was having palpitations and strange feelings in my body. We discussed briefly the idea that I might be having a manic episode, but we reasoned that this was not the case. Its funny really, how quickly that idea was brushed aside and how happy I was to do so.
The Power of ping pong
That night I went to play ping pong with some friends of Dave. A woman there asked me how I was doing and I told her quite honestly that something very strange was happening. She was really down to earth and told me these things pass and so I concentrated on the game of ping pong. It was the weirdest game of ping pong I ever played. Quite soon into the game I realised that I was a terrible player. I reasoned to myself that the reason for this is because I had never really tried. I tried harder. I started to win a few points over players that were clearly better than me. In the breaks between games, I watched the other players intensely, watching the movements of their bodies and the glance in their eyes before they outmaneuvered their opposition. I then began to become aware of my own body and noticed the tension. I was struck by the strange sensation that my awareness of the world around me had become a lot more acute. My focus on small details intensified, I straightened out my body and I went back to the table. As I played i felt like time was being slowed down, I felt It was easier to anticipate the coming plays in this condition, I felt I knew precisely what my opponent was going to do next. I scored a few more points but I still lost.
By the end of the night however I managed a couple of games where i was neck and neck until the tie breaker. I sat in the car on the way home, feeling my body tingling, my mind and awareness feeling so sharp and I realized that this was how magic was born, this was what magic was.
Simply put, I reasoned that because this transformation was occurring to me, I was able to focus my attention in ways I had never been able to before, therefore things that were previously impossible became possible. This could only happen if one had fully opened the mind. “You will now remember things previously forgotten”. I was convinced now that reality itself was shifting in ways I had never experienced before, My game of ping pong confirmed this to me beyond all reasonable doubt. In the next few months this logic would push me to leap from high places, go out at night climbing tree’s and leaping from one obstacle to another feeling that I was “training” this ability to tune into things.
That night as I was falling asleep I tossed and turned between wild dreams and thoughts. “Am I jesus?” I wondered. “No, no, thats crazy” I told myself. “But this feels like what has been described as christ energy” I argued back with myself. I went back and forth with this debate until i finally settled on a story that was both humble (or so i thought) and enchanting. A sleepless night followed where I weaved the story of what was happening to me, the details so intricate that they might take ten blog posts to explain. If ever I met an argument to my story from another part of my mind, I would simply rewrite my narrative to find a way around this. The mind in this condition enters a place that is so hard to relate to somebody who has not experienced it that I struggle to know if I should even attempt such an explanation . A feeling of extreme intelligence overtakes you as your ideas flow like a powerful river upon which you ride in ecstasy. Every thing seems to fit and make sense and due to the fact that you haven’t hit the the rapids yet, you assume that your conclusions about this being a great route to go down must be totally valid. The critical mind is nowhere to be found and if it does utter a protest it is drowned out by the wild ecstasy that the rest of the mind is experiencing. At this point I was totally and utterly drunk on Mania.
What dreams may come
In this condition, believing I was on the doorstep of enlightenment and was simply waiting for the right moment to jump through, feeling as though reality itself was bending to my will I began to put into motion some of the things that would later fall down on me so hard that I would nearly end my life. I began to feel I was channeling information from a higher source, or alternatively put that I was tuning into the currents of the universe and understanding that certain movements could make big things happen. The night after my jesus deliberation I laid there half in sleep, half out until the sun came up – “channeling” my plan about how I would help bring the world into harmony.
This apparently was my chief goal after my enlightenment was complete. The plan involved starting a business grounded on the principles of co-operation and equality. Once this was established, I would set up more of these businesses, and then more, and then more until there were so many of them that capitalism would simply wither and die. I would use the functional, smart elements of capitalism and use them against the beast of money. I proceeded to ring many people in denmark, convinced that I could talk whoever I wished into the project. When I got a no, it was because the person was not open enough yet, when i got a yes, it filled me full of excitement and I continued my networking. Imagine if you will, me sitting there in my little cabin ringing around folks in Denmark with my crazy idea, filled with such surety and passion. You would think people would laugh and call me out for being insane, yet thats where mania is so tricky. Sense and nonsense can mutually exist. An unreasonable plan can intertwine with an inspiring one. The border between sane and insane is incredibly blurry and due to this blurry ness I can conclude that instead of Mania, many people saw passion and creativity. Due to this, the project became a central part of the focus for my wild mind and by the time I was back in denmark, posters were flying up on lampposts, venues were being booked, bikes were being built and we had a team of seven people working on the project.
As well as the business, I booked a concert, arranged to hold a workshop on lucid dreaming and began pursuing my romantic feelings for Leah. She is quite possibly the love of my life I told myself. I was convinced we had spent many lives together. I told Brianne of my feelings and she said “yes I could feel something very big could happen between you” . I took this as a clear indication that indeed Leah was the love of my life and asked Brianne if she knew where I could find her.
Leah worked up at an organic cafe out of town down a windy road surrounded by tree’s. I persuaded Dave to drive me up, he drove me there and wished me luck. As I was walking into the cafe, Leah walked out, our eyes locked and I smiled at her.
I told her that I felt that we had to meet properly and had been touched by her giving me the stones. I told her that they had helped a lot.
“I felt we had to meet too” she told me, “I was wondering when it would happen”.
She told me she had to finish some things off but after that we could take a drive together. We agreed I could enjoy a walk back into town and that she would pick me up on the way. She did that and we took that drive together, and we did go on to share a lot of love together. Leah was with me through the duration of my mania, even in Copenhagen. Sadly, I have never met her as a sober, mentally stable person. I probably never will. From that point things quickly accelerated and it was the beginning of the end. It is this point that I hoped to take the reader to. The point where mental stability has reached complete mental instability. The critical mind is gone, one is drunk on mania, the chips will now fall where they may. I will now attempt to summarize the rest of the journey for you in an attempt to round up this story.
Leah became my confidant and understood and had empathy for many of my conclusions and my feelings about what was happening,
North Carolina ended in a mess. The mess that comes from somebody running too high and not noticing all the things they are neglecting.
I headed through the hills to Atlanta, then down to New Orleans and spent the week with my mother. When she left I was convinced we had healed any hurts from the past. After she left I roamed the streets wondering if I was an angel. I went to yoga classes and persuaded people to go and look at buildings with me under the pretence we could start a business together (yes another business) I started giving away my possessions to people on the streets.
On my final night in New Orleans, I spent the whole night walking around in a stupor, I found a bar and wrote my manifesto for the healing of the world, I spent the rest of the night talking with enlightened beings in my head. They told me it had finally happened, I had finally reached enlightenment. There was no doubt in my mind this was true. I laughed and cried and delighted at all the magic that was going to come. That night I slept for two hours on the stairs of the yoga centre waiting for it to open so I could deliver my manifesto to them. When it didn’t open I found myself in a starbucks trying to buy a coffee. I had run out of cash.
Suddenly and unexpectedly I burst into tears. I cried so hard and for so long that the people in the cafe started looking at me funny. A sweet man came up and gave me a hug and then left. Does someone who is enlightened really feel this messed up? I wondered. It was at this point, the day after my enlightenment had finally happened that I rang home and said I might need help.
My sister and another good friend luckily grasped the severity of the situation. They booked me a fight home that afternoon. On the way home, my mind excelled further into delusion and mania. I would love to tell you I got home and calmed down, but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead I reasoned Mania was just a word put on people who had reached higher awareness and that any struggles that came about because of this were simply side effects that had to be managed. I preceded to lie about my condition and hang out only with people who didn’t really know me. The people who knew me, could see straight through my attempts to convinced them that I was mentally stable. If they would challenge me I would say stuff like “Maybe you just dont actually like my true self – would you prefer the old unhappy version of me. Im never not going to be myself again – no matter what anyone else thinks”
It took another two months for the crash to begin. It took two months of believing I was a supernatural enlightened being before the delusion crumbled. It took two months for the cracks in my logic to grow big enough that reality could flow through and blow my world to pieces. Another two after that for the delusions to turn nasty and to be admitted into the hospital. Seven months on medication after that. Three months of insomnia. Over a year and a half of my life lost to madness. So was I enlightened in the traditional sense? Of course not. Is anyone? But did the experience enlighten me to many things about myself, my psyche and life? Yes indeed. Just not in the ways I thought they were going to. In the journey I lost my spiritualism, I lost my sense of self and felt my whole identity were ripped to pieces. Everything I knew about myself and my identity were burned to the ground in the shock of reality meeting delusion head on.
But thats another story, for another time. The journey from mania, to depression and back into the world of the living destroyed me. But I would never take it back. I hope through my articles and my book you will see the reasons I say this. But for now, I have to put the story of my personal journey back on the shelf of the past where, for the most part, it belongs now.
I once again welcome your feedback, thoughts, feelings and reflections and of course questions. Though i must admit, much of it still remains one big question. However when I ask a question these days, I always ask first, what are the chances of me finding an answer 😉