Mental illness is a strange thing. Strange that it affects the mind. Sometimes the modest treatments are the most profound.
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In 1974 at the age of 20, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with an Acute Schizophrenic Episode.
I was hospitalized for two weeks. During that time I was given a round of shock treatments and injected with anti-psychotic medications. At night I was strapped down to a bed with leather restraints.
But what brought me to the hospital in the first place was an intense spiritual experience. It is hard to describe in words what I experienced. I had a feeling that I knew the secrets of existence.
Everything seemed to be energy and everything vibrated with life. Rocks, trees, plants and grass were vibrating and pulsating with life. I felt my connection with the earth and sky and all that I saw. I felt elated and out of the constraints of time.
I experienced my eternal nature, my soul. I have never taken acid but have heard the same type of experience described by people who did. The problem for me was that I did not take a drug to create this experience, although I was tested for that, and could not “come down.”
I could not cite a drug as what precipitated this event. Since I was outside of time, I did not know what time it was and did not sleep. I was so energized that I didn’t feel the need for sleep. I did not think of eating or caring for my physical body.
I was in a different realm. I was having an ecstatic experience. I was in a state of bliss. I experienced the vastness of nature and the universe and felt my part in the whole of eternity. I can only describe it as a profound spiritual experience.
I was in ecstasy until I was handed over to the the psychiatric community. That’s when I began to experience the hell that is psychiatry. Instead of taking my place as the saint I felt myself to be, I was diagnosed as mentally ill.
After having electric shock to my brain, I had to work hard to collect my thoughts and senses. It felt like putting a very difficult puzzle together. That puzzle was my brain and my entire being. That puzzle was me.
Simple tasks that used to be second nature, now required concentration and effort. In time I was able to bring myself back to a semblance of normalcy. I forgot about my spiritual experience and went about the mundane task of living day to day.
There were only a few brief paragraphs on the subject of Kundalini yoga and there was always a warning that Kundalini energy could cause extreme psychological problems. The books also warned that if you were to pursue such an awakening that you should have a guru. It sounded just like what I had experienced. There was no one I could talk with about this. I did not have a guru. And so I closed the book on my experience, labeled it a fluke and went on with my life.
I have learned to comply with society and its constructs. I am learning to be in the world but not of the world. Over and over I have struggled to shed the labels that I was given by the psychiatric community. Over and over I returned to my spiritual nature and my desire to obtain the ultimate union with my divinity.
My journey with mental illness has been a complicated one with many twists and turns. It has been a path with shining heights and seemingly bottomless depths. It is a crooked path to enlightenment. I believe we all have our own crooked path. Mental illness happens to be mine.
Via Michele Collier