Posted January 2, 2013
It has now been 8 months since my first manic episode. Until then I had very little knowledge of bipolar and even less idea that I may have it. My episode has prompted me to understand this so-called mental illness further, with the most pressing question to my mind: Was what I experienced real on some level, or am I actually psychologically ill?
Before sharing my thoughts on these questions I will tell the story of my episode. I was at the time living with another guy, who after years of being a drug addict became a born again Christian. He spent a year in a rehabilitation centre and then a few years fitting back into normal life. I found his overbearing religious attitudes difficult, but I did appreciate his openness and honesty about his thoughts and ideas on spirituality.
At this point in time I had been about 5 to 6 months out of a 5-year relationship. It had taken me some time to settle down afterwards, to find a new place, car, furniture and re-adjust. I dated a lot of women I met mostly online. I also decided to start a new business and address the urgency and need to get a steady and better income. For years before I had free-lanced in video production, doing quite well, but not well enough. I started to get my business up, and became quite obsessed with it. This was actually one of the greatest periods of learning and growth in my life. I learned many new skills and never switched my brain off. Life was suddenly becoming incredibly stressful, and I was getting a fair amount of work in.
I found myself drinking up to 5 coffees a day, drinking alcohol 2-3 times a week (not heavily) and sleeping very little. My stress levels were becoming beyond what I had ever experienced, and a constant sense of anxiety was becoming normal for me. I also stopped sleeping and to counter this I began using medication to help. First I started using tablets for migraines. Then my brother gave me some tablets from Thailand, supposed to be Valium, but were actually some cheap copied version, which made me feel very strange.
I decided one night after having a bath (something I never did) as an attempt to relax, that I needed to get away and have a holiday. I took a date on a road trip about 3 hours from where I lived, and spent the weekend watching music gigs and going to wineries. The final day I went to a music festival. By this point I’d all but lost the ability to sleep. Even the pills weren’t working. But I felt at the festival an incredibly spiritual presence. I began to feel as if I were connected to others, and there was a sense of a spiritual rebellion I had become a part of. I remember watching a performance about aboriginal injustices, and I became horrified and cried. I started getting a sense that I was perhaps somebody very important, and others knew it, although I did not. I left and drove home, dropping off my date.
On my way home I felt some force almost force me onto a different road and it drove me to my ex-girlfriend’s mother’s house. We had not spoken since her daughter and I had broken up, and I had discovered that she had been diagnosed with cancer. She and her partner were there, and after arriving I sat with them for hours having one of the most honest conversations I’d ever had. This is when reality began to shift.
I was in their backyard when I began to think I was getting married. Not in a conventional sense, but in the spiritual realm. It was as if I witnessed my wedding, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, as if god’s hand had masterfully designed it for all to relish in his splendour. After this experience I remember feeding a fish and believed then that I had conceived a soul, and would be to expect a child in this world. The world looked very different. I was now fully immersed in manic episode.
They sat me down and confronted me, suggesting I needed help. They said I needed to consider the fact that I was depressed, and offered to set me up with a meeting with a doctor. I began to ‘realise’ or think that I had uncovered a truth about my country and homeland. That we were under attack, slowly but surely, by the Chinese. I felt as if I were in some war quite different to any the world had seen before. An invisible war, implemented through technology and mind control. I felt as if they had been captured in this war.
The partner of the mother told me he was taking medicine for depression. He suggested I should too. I felt as if, because my mind was being ‘freed’ that I was a danger, and that I would be required to impose a mind control substance so that I was no longer a threat. I felt very scared, and as if I were being given an ultimatum. I asked them to drive me home, as by this point my body was falling apart. I was shaking, feeling rattled with fear of what I believed I had finally realised.
I arrived home and began talking to my housemate, the devout Christian, by this time fully believing I was in some sense under surveillance, and living in a war. We spoke about spiritual matters and he had suggested we pray before encouraging me to accept Jesus. I chose to accept Jesus, and felt him come to me. I made a testimonial and candidly spoke to him. I then went to bed, at this point in the full throes of my manic episode. I could not sleep, and began feeling as if the end of the world may be coming. That reality as I knew it was not. That in truth, in the spiritual plane, there was a great war that was taking place. I could not sleep.
I spoke to a girl I had dated on the phone who was a nurse. I was very honest about the time I had spent with her, and what I had done with other people. And also about my life. It was a refreshingly honest conversation, and I felt like we had a great connection. I asked her to be my girlfriend, which she didn’t oppose. I then became paranoid that she was actually hired by someone to console me. That the ‘authorities’ were aware of my situation, and she was being paid to talk me down and convince me to ‘surrender’ myself.
I got off the phone out of fear and then felt a sudden urge to correct wrongs I had done to people. I began emailing people, apologizing for things I had done. I wrote a long and quite profound message on Facebook, saying that I love everyone, and declaring that I was ‘out’ fearing that my end was coming. I went back to bed and started reading the Bible. I began to be convinced the world was over. I felt as if there were people who were going to come for me. I then felt as if I had to leave the house, and face society before my death. That I had to take a walk of great shame to confront my maker and await judgement.
I took all my clothes off except some red underwear. Told my house mate I was leaving and walked out of the house, now in the very early hours of the morning. I had phrases run through my mind, mostly that had come from the Bible verses I had just been reading. ‘Show this world little respect when you are to leave, as it is the world of man, not of god.’ I felt that to prove my deservingness to god I had to push the boundaries of reality, in the hope it would all disappear and I would see reality as it truly is. I ran up to a man on a bike riding to work screaming, ‘Are you afraid?!.”
I then kept walking, through a car yard, where I damaged some cars. Then to a park where I walked through sprinklers, rolled in sand and grass and kicked limestone, bruising and cutting my body. I then walked on a highway, in front of cars challenging them, scaring them. A taxi came close to me and I jumped on its bonnet. The taxi started driving fast and swerving. I held on for dear life and ripped his sign off the top of the car. The man jumped out and I demanded he punch me. I swung for him several times, before he punched me in the nose.
I continued walking. I saw a ‘new age’ gift shop with displays of crystals. I felt the words ‘deny all false idols’ compel me to damage the shop. I punched the window and shattered it, then pulled down a sign. My hands were bleeding and I was cut heavily. I continued walking past a cafe. I threatened some of the people setting up for the day. They talked sense into me and told me to stop. I did but not before seeing a newspaper delivery driver. I believed he was a Christian man, who had been sent to help me and pick me up. I still felt as if I had to be beaten and encouraged him and several other men to do it by provoking them. They pushed me to the ground and kicked me several times. I spat out blood and struggled to get up and walk away, feeling now closer to my goal of meeting god for judgement.
I then found a place where I knew I would find god. I went into a car park and found a high pressure hose. I believed this was the key to unlocking the kingdom and meeting god. I saw a fire patch which had been put out, and took this as a sign that it was the ‘burning bush’ such as the sign Moses saw before seeing god. I unravelled it with great difficulty and dragged it to the road after turning it on. Handling it was incredibly difficult, and it felt as if my test was to handle and control it, as I would handle and control a serpent or the devil. I gained control and began stretching it to water a huge tree across the road. I only just made it with the water, but believed this was the key to unlocking the kingdom. I was now turning that key. Some cars went past, and I felt as if there were devils that would try stop me getting in. I strained and strained, and had the realisation that because I was strong, I could reach, which meant to me, because I had worked hard in my life I had earned the place to gain entry to the kingdom. I believed it was unlocked.
The police came and handcuffed me. They put me in the police van and interviewed people from the cafe. I saw a man through the small window who I believe was god. It was a brief second but I felt as if judgement was passed. I had reflected on my life with a pure honesty that was beyond confronting. I had done some wrong and I had done some good. The verdict was I would be granted access to the kingdom, but for my sins my right hand would be given to god. I embraced this decision wholeheartedly. I again had ideas, absurd ideas, flash through my mind. The heavens did not open up as I had anticipated.
I was taken to the hospital and laid in bed for some time. As I watched the people at work I thought that I was at some sort of human control command centre. That the hospital was some sort of administrative centre, where people who were involved with the control of the masses, worked to deal with general running and maintenance. At this point I had my Bible and was reading. I felt blown away that I had never appreciated Christianity’s powerful truth and the profound nature of the word. I also believed that the hospital had divided its patients into religious and ethnic sections. And that because my nurse was Christian, I was being treated well. I was scared to fall asleep, not knowing what would happen if I did. I played along with everything asked of me, but felt tremendous fear, as various doctors questioned and probed me. I felt as though I could see through good and evil, and believed there were particular energy spots around the hospital, I could simply look at which would get me through dealing with a nasty or tough person. It was clear to me, the spiritual war of life was reality, and everything else I had known was theatre.
I was taken by emergency to a psychiatric care facility. This place was horribly scary. I was stripped of all my possessions. I showered and took the drugs and terrible food offered and slept. I awoke, still very confused, as no one had directly told me I was admitted, how long I would be there for or what was happening. I felt as though I was treated as a prisoner, but needed to co-operate to survive. In the morning I attended the meeting and participated in some of the classes that were offered. The first one was cooking. It was very challenging, we had to measure and share a whole range of excursuses clearly designed to test our various abilities at functioning in a group and implementing logical thought. I began to think that I was in a prisoner camp, run by the Chinese. I thought that the ‘war’ had progressed so much so that society had crumbled and a restructuring was taking place. And that I would be held and maybe killed.
I participated as fully as possible and aligned myself with most of the people in there. I felt so full of love and compassion, and felt as if I was guided by god. It was one of the purest times I ever remember feeling. Despite the difficulty and scariness of the situation, I had never felt such great love for my fellow man. I was still confused at times, as well as dehydrated and poorly nourished. I felt as though time was being played with and reality was controlled by the people running the institution. All of my meetings with doctors had young Asian students in there. It was humiliating and not conducive to any sort of healing, but I did the best I could to be honest, holding a Bible always, believing that no one would have the power to destroy me if I spoke with integrity and held the Bible with me.
After a few days it was decided that I would be released. My mother came to get me and I was taken home. I had lost a lot of weight and had some enormous realisations about my life. Most importantly I needed to re-address my life/work balance. I needed to invest time into relationships. I needed to eat well, and look after myself. Slowly I integrated back into normal life, though my experience remained with me for quite some time. I tried church with my housemate, but eventually, despite enjoying it on occasion, could not follow through with it. I ran my first marathon and got my business going. I also began a relationship with the nurse I had spoken to on the phone. Generally I created a great life. But six months on, I am still pending a court trial for the damage incurred when in this state. I have a mental health lawyer, and feel confident she can get me off. I’ve since broken up with my girlfriend, and am back to a similar place I was before. Feeling depressed regularly, insecure, frustrated, angry on occasion. I guess this time I’m seeing a therapist, and also getting treatment from a holistic healer. And I have an awareness of my limits.
I’m not sure what to expect from life from here on in. My work is going well, and I am still quite ambitious and excited about what I may achieve out of life. I have set goals for once that are centred around relationships. I guess I’m just a little scared now. I still don’t fully understand what happened to me. I’ve had many spiritual experiences before, but never like this and never with these sorts of repercussions. So have I answered my questions: Was what I experienced real on some level, or am I actually psychologically ill?
I find it hard to refute that on some level everything I experienced was real. It may be that it was meagrely a subconscious symbolic journey, which reflected my true feelings towards the words and provided me a way of working through that, or perhaps there is some spiritual plane that is at war between the forces of good and evil and we all exist within it, but are not wholly aware of it. I guess the truth is I don’t know. But I’m educating myself and working through the shame of being tarred with the ‘mental illness’ brush. I did not take any medication to follow up, but just looked after my health naturally and found great improvements. I hope to share this experience as I was interested in hearing people’s stories as well.