A friend of mine is collecting healing stories from various women and sharing them on her website. She asked me to flesh out some more details on my health crisis back in year 2000. As always, she was to-the-point with her request and said, “write about what made you keep going and not give up.”
Well, and in 10 paragraphs or less!
I don’t know if I directly answered that question. But, attempted to lay out a rough road-map for those navigating the darkness.
The original story is here. But, I am going to re-post it on my site as well.
It’s been a long journey since I experienced psychosis in year 2000. I was in Peace Corps in Ukraine, visiting Prague in Czech Republic. While on “vacation,” I was triggered into a psychosis which sent me spiraling into the depths of my unconscious. During this time, I experienced heart palpitations, dizzy spells, GI issues, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, intrusive thoughts, ambient pain throughout my body, and overwhelming rage, grief, and fear.
When people speak of the pain involved in fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, thyroid imbalances, and auto-immune disorders, I know what they are speaking of. And, yes I do think they are connected and interrelated (please see the articles and links at the end of this blog post). And, yes it happens to more women than men. I truly believe that women who trail-blaze this healing journey are going to offer our culture some powerful gifts of personal (and national) transformation. Our bodies are simply screaming that we HAVE to change how we live our lives and how we design our lives.
From that intense, dark, nitty-gritty journey, I gained understanding in ways we can take the “charge” and fear away from extreme states of consciousness that one experiences during psychosis. Over the years, I have heard stories, mostly from women, about their experience with psychosis (maybe this is simply because many of my deep conversations are with women). These stories typically only emerge after they have heard mine. They emerge from the back of the back of the back of the closets of their minds, dutifully tucked away so that they can get on with their lives. Always, stories of psychosis are riddled with stigma and silence.
Many of these episodes of psychosis happened after the women experienced rape. Many stories happened after experiencing long-term stress and the psyche just flew its doors open to childhood traumas that were cloaked and covered up by this-busy-life. And then, there are some stories that sound like an episode of spiritual emergence, not colored with darkness, but rather ethereal experiences (oneness with God, channeling benevolent messages, reading people’s minds, etc). Whether, traumatic or ethereal, people have been treated the same by mental health and medical practitioners; typically medicated and/or institutionalized.
As I understand it, psychosis and spiritual emergence are one in the same. They are both a rapid opening of the energy body and psyche, where energy begins to move as a person undergoes a powerful, inner transformation. For those with trauma embedded in their system, this moving energy will be blocked by dark, inert energy (wounds) and thus, psychosis. For those with less trauma or “marks” in their system, they will experience something more like spiritual emergence where they experience “one-ness” or “time-less-ness.”
What we are beginning to understand as a culture is the potent healing time spiritual emergence and psychosis actually are. Psychosis is a time when the psyche dips into the unconscious and begins to heal itself through metaphor, symbolism, and with a cast of internalized characters or archetypes (that is why some people her “voices”). The person actually enters an in-between space, not fully in this world. The psyche goes into repair mode and begins to integrate its fragmented parts and work on its deepest wounds. Ideally, a guide or guides can steward this person back to wholeness as it is an extremely vulnerable time for the person undergoing psychosis. The person needs trust, safety, love, and time to heal.
If everything goes well, the person who slipped into psychosis can eventually go back to “regular” life and have quite a few gifts to offer the world from their healing journey. It takes a lot to heal broken-ness.
I really did not have many guides myself. It was a lonely journey and I really had to fight to live. It doesn’t have to be that hard. And, there should not be stigma around trauma and brokenness. There should instead be support groups and guides. With documentary films like Crazywise, support systems like Open Dialogue (a model out of Finland), and growing understanding about epigenetics, transgenerational trauma, and nutrition…I finally feel that we are getting somewhere.
After seeking medical help twice (once in Prague and once in Mississippi), where I was told to “drink more green tea” and “get on birth control,” respectively…I figured out that I was on my own. You may recall the list of symptoms from the beginning of the post.
Yeah. I had to seek services outside the medical establishment.
However, in an ideal situation, the doctor will have knowledge of your condition and your ACE Score and assist you by monitoring your progress as you pursue alternative therapies (and pharmaceutical medication when and *if* needed).
What healed me was my healing journey. Diet came first (I suggest Paleo Diet, GAPS Diet, or Low Histamine Diet, depending on the person). Yoga and meditation naturally came next. Herbalism and plant medicine was the next step for me. I participated in a women’s circle for a long time which was deeply healing. Then it was time for healing dreams (which happened on their own as healing progressed), therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
There is not a one-size-fits-all with healing from trauma and/or psychosis. However, there are some important things that need to happen. Self-love. Social support. Proper nutrition. Yoga and meditation. Energy work.
I offer you a deep bow to you on your healing journey. May you be blessed and loved.
Resources and Links
article on Trauma and Epigenetics
article II on Trauma and Epigenetics
article III on Trauma and Epigenetics
great article on Nutrition and Mental Health
the basics of Methylation
Grief and Praise with Martin Prechtel (youtube)