Is it really your intuition guiding you? Maybe it’s fear

What if that voice that’s whispering to you isn’t your inner wisdom but your inner fear, a Dragon, a Monster?

This happened to me last week.

See, despite all the problems and failures I’ve had, people think of me as “strong”. And I have to admit that I like that people think that about me.

I think of me as “strong”, even though I know my weaknesses.

This is hard because I want to talk about something without giving too many details, but I’m going to try.

Something was happening last week that felt like an old pattern, something I did not want to deal with.

I started to feel/hear “Walk away, walk away, WALK AWAY!!”

I was already starting to mourn the ending, even though I hadn’t walked away yet. Gathering the strength to do so was in itself a grieving process.

I was certain that my “inner wisdom” or intuition or whatever was telling me this was doomed to be a failure. I mean absolutely, positively certain. I was journaling about it, I was working myself up into an emotional cyclone over it. I was unable to concentrate long enough to do paid-for readings (which is unprofessional as hell).

And then something popped up in my inbox that made me shift gears.

First of all, I’m in complete inbox overwhelm lately. During the telesummit a few months ago, I had signed up for dozens of email lists and haven’t had the energy to trim them down yet. Most days I don’t read any of the emails I get, or I just glance through. Some days one or two jump out at me and say, “Read/watch/listen”, whichever is appropriate.

And one day, Christine Arylo’s Love Letter jumped out at me. I don’t know why. I hadn’t looked at her stuff in months (if you don’t know Christine, she’s built her business and reputation around self-love. She’s a bit quirky and funny. Check her out at Madly In Love With Me!)

Something in there reminded me of one of The Four Agreements – Don’t Assume. [As an aside, remind me to tell you guys about working with Don Miguel Ruiz before he became famous.]

Assuming goes two ways. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking or feeling and assuming that they know what you are thinking and feeling.

And that’s what I had been doing. I had been taking something personally that really didn’t have anything to do with me.

I was also expecting someone else to know – at a distance! – how I was feeling and pursue me to force me to tell him/her how I was feeling.

And that is not fair in so many ways.

The Voice, the one now SCREAMING, “Walk Away, WALK AWAY, WALK AWAY!” was doing all that assuming.

So, I watched Christine’s video again and sat down to compose an email.

I didn’t even know what to say or how to express what I was feeling.

But I did the best I could with it.

It was cathartic; I even cried while writing it.

I felt immensely better for writing and sending it.

I didn’t get an immediate response. I didn’t expect an immediate response.

But the longer I waited for a response, the more the Voice started up again. “See, told ya so!” it was now saying.

I was feeling panicked.

What if. . . .

What if I opened up to the wrong person at the wrong time?

What if I made myself vulnerable and received nothing in return?

Why wasn’t I listening to my intuition?

Could I handle being hurt again?

But, in my best times, I have been able to say, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Push through the fear, do what you’re scared of. Yes, there’s potential for it to go wrong, to be hurt, to fail, but how do you know if you don’t try?

And then . . .  I got a response.

It was appropriate, kind, thoughtful, and genuine.

The fear bubble burst.

The Voice was gone.

That Voice was the voice of fear, NOT my intuition.

But how do you tell the difference? The Voice of fear was so strong – so much stronger than the gentle pull in the opposite direction.

Christine’s video resonated so strongly with me at exactly the right moment – that was intuition guiding me to what I needed to hear.

That voice, that guide is so quiet and gentle most of the time, it’s hard to recognize it at times.

Photo from Unprofound.com

Before you act on something, especially if it’s a negative something, or makes you panicked, stop for a moment. Breathe. Ask, “Does this act serve my highest good? Will this help me feel more fulfilled/loved/helpful/relieved or will this just hurt?”

Sometimes you need to cut people out of your life, toxic people, people who only hurt you even if it’s under the guise of helping you. Be clear about why you are doing that if you do. Make sure that it’s not based on a million what-ifs (assumptions) that haven’t even happened yet.

Be kind to yourself – ask for what you need. After all, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t move out of your comfort zone.

As I was in the middle of writing this, my new friend and Wild Sister Marylin over at Soft Thistle posted about asking for help and being vulnerable. 🙂 Same wavelength, lady!

Mental Health: How society treats Mental Illness

I started writing this on April 19, around the time of the Boston Marathon bombing.

I don’t want to think about a lot of the stuff that’s gone on this week, on the large scale (Boston, Texas, Waterton, etc) and on a personal one (Monterrey and tires – I’ll relate it soon).

And then I read this:

And that really didn’t make anything better.

For some reason, it reminded me of one of the (actually very few) negative reactions I’ve had when I disclosed my Bipolar.

I was in school, pretty early on, maybe my second semester at the university, so 2005? 2006? I was in a history class. The teacher was very strict on counting attendance as part of the grade. I was struggling with a bout of depression. One of my classmates, a young woman, was struggling with debilitating migraines.

We were commiserating about this and I talked about being bipolar. I also talked about about my daughter who was in third or fourth grade at the time.

The young woman said, “They haven’t taken her away?” or maybe it was, “Why haven’t they taken her away?”

I was shocked, stunned.

I’m ill, so “they” should take her away from me? More importantly, “they” should take me away from her?

My response to the young woman was, “Why should they take her away? She’s clean, fed, bright, does well in school, has clothes, etc.”

I wasn’t taking care of myself very well at that point, but SHE was taken care of. That’s where the majority of my energy went.

I don’t know if that reaction is better or worse than some of the other reactions I’ve had. The best is when someone starts to relate about about someone in their lives that has the illness or another big psych issue.

But others are like, “Aren’t we all a little bipolar?” I loved the nurse that tried to tell me to get off my meds and everything would be fine, that was good. There’s a great list of “things to not say” here.

Not sure I have a real point today, except I’m fairly frustrated at the way we as a society treat mental illness.

This came up for me again recently.

The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, version V, came out this month.

The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel,  “rejected” the new version as not scientific enough.

 Indeed, symptom-based diagnosis, once common in other areas of medicine, has been largely replaced in the past half century as we have understood that symptoms alone rarely indicate the best choice of treatment. Patients with mental disorders deserve better.

 I agree that we need better ways of determining mental illness.

Wouldn’t it be great to point to a blood test or a brain scan to say, “THIS is what’s wrong”?

But those tests don’t exist yet. There is research going on, but it’s not yet at a level where we can do that.

NIMH does not deal directly with patients, they fund research, so this won’t affect patients directly.

NIMH is apparently going to use their own criteria called Research Domain Criteria. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) on the other hand has a more rational approach, along the lines of my feeling – It’s not perfect, but it’s what we have right now.

While we are better than mental hospitals of 50 years ago, we still have a long way to go treating mental illness, and those who suffer with it so that it’s on parity with “physical” illnesses.

Stuck-ness

I’ve started a million blog posts (well, half a dozen, anyway).

But I get them to about a hundred, two hundred words and I think, “This sounds so totally stupid, and what am I trying to accomplish with it?”

And I don’t know.

I wanted to write more posts for Mental Health Awareness Month. And I started a couple. Didn’t finish.

I did finally finish and submit TPA 3. Waiting to see if I passed. I should feel good about that but I don’t because I have one more to go and the amount of work to do on it is daunting. Makes me want to go take a nap.

I’m feeling a bit lost for a direction on this business.

The readings was a way to get started, start bringing in a little income while I worked on a couple of offerings. But every time I start to do something it feels stupid or like something someone else has already done/said.

I know that I do work in fits and starts, but lately the fits are less and less prominent.

This week, at least two days, I took “naps” in excess of 2 hours. Today, it was 4 hours. I mean, really, why does an unemployed person need a 4 hour nap?

I have a “to do” list a mile long.  And here I sit, going through my little ritual of checking certain websites over and over and over again.

Yesterday, I had a bad day, similar to today, and I did some free readings trying to turn my energy around. It worked, yesterday, but I can’t do unlimited free readings every day, and I didn’t carry the good energy over to today.

I feel like I’m drowning, even though I have some good things happening.

Turning in TPA 3 .. . . I’ve been putting that off for almost a year and a half. I should feel something about it. Relief? Accomplishment? Something. I don’t feel anything, except fear over the next hurdle.

I’ve been super nervous about not having enough money for the second installment of the pet deposit, but I talked to my doctor, and I’m entitled to an emotional support animal for my disability. Once I get the letter from my doctor, I should be able to submit that, and maybe even get the installment I’ve paid back and stop the pet rent.

That’s a good thing. And I’m not happy, I’m just nervous about not getting the letter in time.

This seems like I’m whining, and I’m not meaning to, I do have some stuff going on and I’m doing ok, I’m making progress, I’m just feeling like I’m starting to sink again.

I have pulled out the Ganesh chant and a mini altar to help push through this time.

Video Post – Learning to read Oracle Decks

In addition to Tarot, I also read Oracle decks. In this post, I briefly describe the difference between Oracle decks and Tarot and give a brief introduction to how I learn to read a new deck.


In the video, I reference the Wisdom of the Hidden Realms  deck by Colette Baron-Reid. You can find out more about Colette here.

 

I also mention the Wisdom of the House of Night deck: C started reading the series of books by P.C. and Kristen Cast a few years ago and has been reading them as they’ve been published. This deck is aimed at fans of the series.

This is the card I’m talking about from the new Enchanted Map Oracle Cards.  Baron-Reid’s book The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life is at that link. 

Click here to see what people say about my readings, and click here to book your reading!

Mental Health Month: Bipolar – the Manic Side

Depression and the depressed side of bipolar get a lot of attention, in the media and in society. Many people know someone that has battled depression at some point in their lives.

Most people don’t know anything about the manic side. They are told that it is the “up” side of bipolar, the creative side. And it is.

But it is also can be just as destructive as the depressed side.

Symptoms of mania include three or more of the following (when not caused by drugs):

  • inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • decreased need for sleep (such as feeling rested after only 3-4 hours of sleep)
  • more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • distractibility (attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
  • increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation.
  • excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (such as unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)
Full mania can also lead to psychosis and hallucinations. Hypomania (“little” mania) of the bipolar II has all the same symptoms, but lack psychosis and supposedly aren’t severe enough to interfere with daily life.
A couple of years ago, on another internet forum, someone postulated that he would simply love to have bipolar instead of unipolar depression, because at least then there is an upside.
We had quite the argument where I was trying to explain that “upside” really wasn’t. I don’t know if I was successful. 
It seems as though an increase in “goal-directed activity” should be a good thing, and it can be, to a point. The creative people with bipolar tend to create in this state. But, there’s a passage in An Unquiet Mind where Kay Redfield Jamison describes mania:

“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.” 

photo from Unprofound.com
This is what my thoughts feel like at times –
going by so fast I can’t capture one –
blurs out everything

When I look back at certain periods of my life, I can clearly see now that I was manic then.

In particular, my promiscuity screams loud and clear about being hypomanic. I know I lost a couple of good guys because of it, but for the most part, I didn’t see my one night stands as people. I assumed that men were always out for sex and I took advantage of that. Having to explain to a perfectly nice guy that you really were only using him for sex is not the most fun thing in the world. So I started sleeping with guys I didn’t like. Now, how fucked up is THAT? I haven’t dated at all since my diagnoses in Dec. 1999, so I’m certainly over that. 😛

But some other symptoms. . .

In 1991, I received about $4000 worth of back pay. It was the most money I’ve ever had at one time, and I almost couldn’t wrap my brain around having that much. In the next few weeks, I managed to spend $7000. I know SOME of what I spent it on: a stereo, a small tv, VCR, some CDs, some clothes, rented a car, luggage. Other than that? Not a clue. And now I was in debt, having written bad checks to the Exchange and to the US Government. It lead to me losing a prime assignment in the military.

While I’ve never spent to that extent again, I do sometimes still. . .  lose track of how much I’ve spent. I have bought some “fun” things (books, yarn, etc) before paying bills. When I’m thinking clearly, I don’t do that; I can budget damn well. But at times, my judgment is off.

Talking. Gods, the talking.

Recently, C told me that one of the parents at TKD commented that I tell everybody everything (i.e. too much) about my life.

The thing is, I know I do it. I know people don’t want to hear this shit. But I can’t STOP. If I’m feeling social, I talk and talk and talk and talk. I take over conversations. I get the “teacher voice” and sound like an authority on everything. Hell, I think I AM an authority on everything.

And I can hear myself doing it.

And I can’t stop.

I talk so fast people don’t understand what I’m saying. I have been somewhat successful in consciously slowing down my speech at times, but if I don’t concentrate very hard, I lose that. And LOUD. My voice will carry across a room.

That may seem like a small thing, talking too much. But it can be socially devastating. Who wants to be around the loudmouth that takes over all the conversations and/or makes them all about her? Who wants to be around the parent who does that?

I’m not like that all the time, but when I’m not, social interactions are . . .  difficult. For one thing, I’m embarrassed about how I act when hypo-manic. I’ve become more and more withdrawn over the years.

There was a day last week where I was awake for approximately 41 hours. I dozed for about 10-15 minutes at a time at various times, but never really reached sleep. And it took medication to get me to sleep even after that. By the time I took the meds, I could not concentrate on anything for more than 2-3 minutes. I felt. .  . floaty, disconnected from my body, light-headed. Luckily, I have medication to do this (with my doctor’s knowledge and blessing). If I was still unaware that this is a danger sign or didn’t have the medication, it could have lead to some bad stuff.

Oh, my home would probably be a little cleaner, and maybe I would have a few more things written, but one thing about mania that I think doesn’t get enough press is irritability.

I have a very short fuse when manic. C is good about pointing out to me, “Why are you shouting at me?” when I don’t even realize I’m shouting. I can be very grumpy while at the same time feeling free enough to do whatever the hell I please.

It’s a love/hate relationship with the mania. I *do* get more accomplished. I do start things when in this phase. I get a lot of great ideas. This is also the time when I say, “Fuck it!” and take chances, do new things, go places I’ve never been and so on.

It can be fun. But it can also be just as destructive as the depressive side.

Oracle Card Reading for May 5-May 11

These week I am using Celtic Messages Oracle deck by Joules Taylor. There are several layouts that came with this set that I only use with this deck. There are 52 cards broken down by color into Helpers, Places, Tools and Totems. The cards are round, so all the positive and negative connotations of the cards are in each one.

The center card is supposed to represent my state of mind. 1. The Triskele – The Hero/Goddess Bride is a Helper that brings a message of the unconditional love of a mother. She is also the regenerative force, the sun, fire and fertility. [hmmm?]

The card below and to the right is supposed to be where I am in the situation, “physically or mentally”. 23. The Hillfort with keywords of refuge, safety, security. [I don’t feel very secure at the moment, but I am looking for security.] Ah! “Now is the time to find like-minded people to defend what is important to you.” That makes a bit more sense.

The card above is what I can do to improve the matter. 20. The Hill with keyword perspective. Take a step back and look at the plan as a whole.

The card below and to the left is the result. 36. Torc with keywords wealth, money matters, status. Looks like that can be good or bad. It might mean an unexpected windfall or it might mean an unexpected bill. 😛 Wish I knew which!

I will say that many readings I’ve done in the last month keep indicating that I will be ok financially, but I’m not really sure what form that will take.

I didn’t ask a specific question when I pulled the cards, and I have to admit, I’m not totally sure what this is referring to.

Regeneration, finding others to defend important things, stepping back for perspective, money.

This could be about my business or looking for a job. If so, it’s mostly positive.

Mental Health Month: Bipolar’s Darkest Side

May is Mental Health Awareness Month . . . . .

Trigger warning – this post talks about suicide and suicide rates. For some merely talking about the topic can be triggering.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this video of an interview with Stephen Fry (a British actor, if you are unfamiliar; and if you are unfamiliar look up Fry & Laurie, a comedy sketch show where he teamed up with Hugh Laurie of House long ago). He has been diagnosed with cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is technically a separate diagnosis from bipolar; the Mayo Clinic describes it as, “Cyclothymia causes emotional ups and down, but they’re not as extreme as in bipolar type 1 or 2”. Stephen himself calls it the most mild form of bipolar. They are certainly closely related mood disorders.

In the video, he calls Bipolar a “morbid” disease and then qualifies it as “morbid in the medical sense – it kills people.” (He has a lot of other good things to say, too, like the part about it being like the weather and the story of the guy who stood in front of a lorry (truck)).

And it does, in the sense that the suicide rate among those with bipolar is higher than in the general population.

2000 study indicates that 25-50% of those diagnosed with some form of bipolar attempt the act – up to HALF of people with some form of bipolar attempt suicide. About 10-15% of people diagnosed Bipolar I commit suicide (others suggest as high as 20%). A 2007 study indicates that the rate in patients with bipolar II may be even higher.

“. . . the rate of prior suicide attempt is higher in biplar II patients, and bipoloar II disorder is overrepresented in depressed suicide victims. Among patients with different clinical manifestations of major mood disorders (unipolar major depression, bipolar  and bipolar II disorder), bipolar patients in general and bipolar II subjects in particular carry the highest risk of suicide.”

People with bipolar II tend to spend more time in a depressed state. Some researchers even suggest that major depressive disorder and episodes are really on a spectrum of bipolar II.

And there is data that the clear majority of people who attempt suicide are in the grips of a depressive episode (78-89%), about 11-20% attempt during a “dysphoric manic” state, that is a mixed state. A mixed state can be either “dysphoric mania” or “agitated depression”.

I know, for me, when deeply depressed, I may think about it, but I don’t have the energy to actually DO anything. For me, a mixed state is much more dangerous. Having the energy and agitation of mania and the thought patterns of depression? Very dangerous.

So, what can you do to help someone? I guess I often assume that everyone has been exposed to information on avoiding suicide and/or other mental health issues, so it feels repetitive to me to post it yet again. But maybe someone reading this might need the info so. . . .

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Talking about it. When someone is talking about suicide, they aren’t just being melodramatic, they are asking for help. When someone jokes about it, too. I used to make statements such as, “Maybe I should take myself out of everyone else’s misery.” (It was apparently a little subtle for most people to pick up on – but at the time, I was pretty serious.)
  • Gathering stuff that will help them do it, the examples given by the Mayo Clinic include stockpiling pills or buying a weapon.
  • Withdrawing from social contact.
  • Mood swings (which, you know, for a rapidly cycling bipolar would be ALL THE TIME)
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Feeling trapped and hopeless
  • Increasing use of alcohol and/or drugs (also known as self-medicated)
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping patterns.
  • Risky and self-destructive behavior.
  • Giving away treasured belongings and/or “setting affairs in order”.
  • Personality changes and/or being severely agitated or anxious.
The problem is, some people don’t show anything at all. They keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves. Those are the most dangerous, of course.
If you feel this way, if this is you, the best thing is to reach out for help.
Problem is, for me, that’s the time when it’s most difficult to ask for help.
There are hotlines you can call, family/friends and medical professionals you can reach out to for help.
In the U.S.:
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 (press 1)
There’s a list of other numbers here.
If you love someone who is showing signs, you can also contact the above places for ideas on how to get the person help.
Stephen Fry’s The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive – Part 1, Part 2