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Category Archives: Hypnosis & Inner Work

Aimless

This post was originally a part of last week’s post, but because of length, I decided to break the post into two with last week focusing more on my mundane life, and this week focusing more on re-entering Kemeticism. If this post seems somewhat repetitive, that is why.

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One of the most interesting and oh-so-fun side effects of my health degrading is my complete and utter lack of memory. I honestly can’t remember most of 2015, 2016… and to some extent, 2017. When I went to start writing posts in August, I realized that I had forgotten that I had posted in April. A lot of what I used to know about Kemeticism still rattles in my head, but I don’t really have access to it anymore.

Because of this side effect, all I could really remember thinking about Kemeticism since my health tanked in 2016 was lukewarm “eh” ness. I mean, when I moved, my shrine sat on a shelf for weeks and collected dust with its doors taped shut while I lukewarmly looked for a place to put it. I couldn’t care less about the gods or the community, and for all I could remember, this had been the case since my “A Good Horse” era.

But recently I found a planner from 2016 that I stored all of my little tidbits in. As it turns out, early 2016 me was very much still jonesing for Kemeticism. I have pages of notes for my book. Pages of notes for how I wanted to release it. Topics that I wanted to write about on WP. Tagging phrases I wanted to use over on tumblr to make resources more searchable. Initiation tidbits that O had pinged for me while I was still able to read (another fun side effect — I can’t read or write very well anymore.)

But between the gap of what was and what is, I lost something. I lost a lot of somethings. And part of that was my original love affair for the NTRW. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I’m pretty sure it started in the fall of 2016, when I was told through a third party that I should step back on all fronts related to Kemeticism, for my own health, and co-signed it with Set’s name. Regardless of what I wanted or what I felt was the proper handling of such a situation, the writing was pretty apparent on the wall, and it said to gtfo.

I had to be dragged and kicked away from my work. Within a month or two of fully walking away, you couldn’t drag me back to it. I began to find absolute liberty and freedom in being able to see that drama was occurring, and not feel obligated to do anything about it. It was amazing to not have to deal with writing schedules, constantly checking social media platforms, having to field drama or requests to handle drama, etc. I loved being able to just… exist without worrying about this religious community.

But even as I drifted away from Kemeticism, I found that I was often still going back to it. As I began to study permaculture and learn more about the processes that occur in nature, I found myself comparing them to ma’at, to the NTRW, to Kemeticism. Even if I never wanted to see Kemeticism ever again, I couldn’t seem to break free of it, either. It was built so heavily into my worldview that I had nothing else to put in its place to compare new concepts to.

As I began to play with the idea of writing again, I found myself mulling more and more about how I actually felt under the surface about my religion. I knew that I still liked the religion itself, but that my strongest emotions were towards the gods and the community specifically. In many ways, I was content to keep ma’at and pitch the rest–other Kemetics included.

So when grandma died and everything was thrown onto the floor, I really had to figure out why I should even bother to come back to writing at all. Because of the need to be present and offline while handling all of the aspects of cleaning her house, moving in, caring for grandpa, etc. I really got the chance to 100% forget and remove myself from the trappings that used to be my daily life. My shrine was packed away. All of my books were out of sight, and I went months without checking WP and days without checking Tumblr. I completely and totally fell of the map.

And I liked it.

I’m sure this is leading a few of you to ask yourself “well why are you even here, then, if you liked it so much?” And my answer to you is

 

To some extent I can’t justify entirely walking away from what I’ve helped to build, but on the other hand, I’m not as committed to the sparkle motion as I used to be. Or at least, I’m not as committed to the sparkle motion that the gods seemed to want for this community. Part of why I am here is also spite — spite at the gods for their treatment of myself and others, spite at the people who wish I’d just disappear.

So far, the only thing I can really say with any certainty is that becoming more active on discord is probably the main reason I decided it was worth coming back. Being able to talk with other people was what really sold me on doing this work many years ago, and to some extent, its what’s bringing me back now (and frankly, I’m not the only one.) Time and time again, love it or hate it, its those pesky human interactions that seem to bring a lot of us back.

That and spite.

The more I get to interact with people again, the more I remember that it used to be this way before I lost a lot of my friends, and before I became too ill to really bother with talking to anyone anymore. I have no clue how widely-known it is, but when my health tanked and I suddenly stopped posting or doing anything online… almost no one came to check on me, and I know for a fact that that has weighed heavily on me since 2015. When you’re trying to hard just to scrape by, and no one even seems to notice you’re gone, it makes it hard to convince yourself its worth going back to. I’ve realized since that it’s not necessarily that people don’t care, but it’s that people don’t know what they don’t know. And many of us (myself included) really suck at letting people know that we’re thinking of them, or checking in on people.

As I slowly sifted back through the posts that I forgot I wrote, I began to realize that ultimately, I’m in the same position that I’ve always been in. My love for the gods is about a lukewarm as it’s seemingly always been. It’s the people that have always brought me back around and kept me here.

And I think I’m okay with that.

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The Problem is the Solution

They say that recovery isn’t a straight line.

They’re not wrong.

Back when I was in therapy, I often found myself back in a portion of my past, somewhere starting in 4th grade, spanning through to the end of 5th grade. During this time in my life, I had experienced a lot of changes resulting in a loss of stability, structure, and trust btwn me and, well, everyone around me. While everything that was going on seemed doable from the perspective of an adult, the younger parts of myself felt as though I had experienced the end of a way of living. To elementary school me, it was almost like I was living through an apocalypse, and trying to find a way to continue on despite the fact that only a husk seemed to remain of my former life.

I think about this part of myself often. I think because I can relate to it in a whole new way than I could before. It’s not that I haven’t had to shift my way of living regularly as new health issues or losses of resources have occurred… its that I’ve never actually achieved any level of stability since my youth to actually lose. Until now.

People may have noticed that at the end of last year, it seemed like I might start posting regularly again. If this was you, then congratulations, you were correct. That is, until my grandmother died. For those of you who have been hanging around for a hot minute, you’ll know that our past was checkered in both amazing and equally awful ways. Our relationship was complicated, though it had mostly worked itself out as I became an adult.

With her death, everything about life changed. I had to move into her old house so that someone could keep an eye on my grandfather, except to do that I needed to clear out enough of her belongings to actually be able to move in (can you say “hoarding”?.) In the process I had to break my lease and pay for that. I had to give up job opportunities and accept the fact that holding down a full-time job again was no longer in my future, for better or worse. I had just gotten my diet, and to some extent, my health, under control only to have that blown apart because I now have to provide meals for another person whose eating habits are completely antithetical to what I need to be ingesting.

So in short, everything has more or less changed in the past 6 months. My living situation has changed. I’m no longer living in town with my SO, but instead in the sticks with my SO, grandfather and all of my grandmother’s hoarded animals. I’ve got to not only take care of myself, but the house, the animals, and my grandfather. And while my family had originally made it sound like they were going to be helpful, the truth has shown to be quite the opposite.

As such, in a matter of a few weeks, nearly all of the progress that I had made in improving my health has completely been sunk. Symptoms that had left have slowly started to return, and I’ve noticed that my lack of being able to maintain all of my specialists and dietary needs has taken a toll. And I’m likely only just getting started. In so many ways, I feel so much like my younger self, standing in a wasteland of what used to be my life. Unlike 4th grade me, I at least have more tools now to get myself back to where I want to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that it really sucks to have your recovery shot in both of its kneecaps and left for dead.

Everything that has happened in the past few years has left me with conflicting emotions, and this final turn of events has been the cherry on top. I titled this post “the problem is the solution” in an attempt to remind myself that even though things are challenging, they are ultimately what I need in order to get where I want to be. And that while I may feel several ways about something, that I am still heading in the direction that I ultimately want to go.

While the timing of being forced out onto this property is not ideal, I know that it will ultimately be better for me to be here sooner over later. This will allow me to start moving forward on my long-term future plans sooner over later, and it allows me to stop my future house-to-be from becoming completely unlivable, as my grandparents weren’t doing any of the major maintenance needed to keep things running well. While the existence I’m eking out right now isn’t great, I know that I ultimately have the capacity to turn my situation into a boon if I play my cards right.

But it also means the passing of an era. I know that I’ll never be able to go back to how things were, and while I know that that ultimately isn’t a bad thing, it still makes me a little sad. Especially because it means that getting my health back on track is going to now be that much more difficult and challenging, and that while I know opportunity exists at some point in the future, I still have to get there from where I’m at.

Of course, I am also changed from this experience. The person I was three years ago really kinda no longer exists. Running the gauntlet of having someone die, becoming a caretaker, and dealing with the drama and fallout that occurs with that sort of process all while trying not to die on the daily has changed me, for better or worse. As you will likely see in the coming posts that I’ve got scheduled, I’ve lost parts of myself, cast parts of myself aside, and am still not entirely sure where I’m at or what I’m doing–especially when it comes to Kemeticism. And while things are still up in the air, I’m certain that it’s only a matter of time before those changes affect how I look at Kemeticism, or handle my community work, as well.

Everything I did with this blog before I left was mainly aimed at obtaining Set’s objectives for the community. I no longer have to adhere to that, so I guess let’s see where it leads us, shall we?

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2018 in Hypnosis & Inner Work, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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To Sustain Yourself on Hearts

Everywhere around me, I see death.

I don’t necessarily mean death as in, there are dead bodies around all the time (though there is a lot of literal death on this planet, too), but a death that is a bit more metaphorical: people who are living, yet very much dead inside. You know the call signs: you hate your job, you hate being alive, you live to escape into a book or tv, you drag through the motions of life without engaging with those motions. I think we’ve all been there. I think it’s impossible to live a full life and not spend some time there, but it’s not healthy when you stay there for too long.

After my last post, Sat talked to me about how it reminded her of her Inert Ones post, saying that “Maybe that’s part of why there were Inert Ones in hour 2. They had eaten their hearts to the point where there was nothing left to move on.” This hit several notes for me including a mixture of my own experiences with being inert for extended years of my life, combined with my experiences through the spirit work I’ve done with Osiris — a person who also spent a fair amount of time being inert. Shortly after Osiris is felled, he is said to lay on his side, inert, and unaware of everything going on around him. When O walked me through Rosetjau a few years ago, he reminded me that when you die, your energy becomes still and the energy around you (loved ones, people you knew, people who process your body, etc.) becomes active as if transferred from one party to another. He told me that this is how the dead are supported — the energy shifts to those around you, and they take care of everything while you adjust to your new existence.

Ideally, it’d be that way in real life, too. That every time one of us falls off the radar, we’d have people to help up find our legs again, to help us slowly move back into Being. However, that’s not how things work. Instead, we often left on our sides, left in the stillness of death. Eventually you’re gonna get hungry in that place, and you’re likely going to eat your heart.

In my experience, being among the living dead makes you hate yourself. You see all of these people who are Actually Living, and you feel bitter and angry. Sometimes you’re angry because you can’t feel what they feel. Sometimes you’re angry because no one will help lift you up so that you could attempt to achieve what they have. Sometimes you’re angry because it feels Too Much, and you’re certain you will never ever move from that space.

I have lived my entire life with one foot in that space. I determined at a very young age that happiness was not a thing for me. That I was not put on this planet to be happy, and so I shouldn’t even bother to seek it out. I felt that I was put here to help others, to build and create and work for others. To help others find what I could not. If you remember in my last post, a lack of perceived options often keeps us stuck, and I was very stuck.

This was further complicated by the years of neglect I had endured with my family. I was made to believe that I was unimportant, unworthy of love, and since my family didn’t love me, I didn’t love me either. I think a lot of us struggle with both of these thoughts — that we can’t achieve happiness, so it’s not worth seeking out; and that we aren’t worthy of the happiness, even if we could obtain it.

Despite living like this for many years, my inertia reached its climax, starting in late 2015. Which shows you that it can always get worse (lesson 1.)

Picture it: it’s the eve of the month of Halloween. The air outside is still in the triple digits. You’re freshly widowed, and you’ve taken on about $30k in debt over the course of a month (not even an exaggeration) on top of everything else you’ve still got to pay for. Your job is pretty awful and you’ve been working 60 hour weeks since the beginning of the year. You’re about to get surgery on your face, and it’s supposed to be painful. There is the double-digit possibility that your surgery could go south, meaning you will have wasted about $25k of your time and money. Surgery is fast, but when you come out of it, you’re in level 8 pain and it stays there for about a month. You don’t sleep at all for the first week and a bit and you can’t eat anything solid for the next three months. And about three weeks in, you realize that you can’t really remember anything from the past 6 months. That’s how 2015 ran into it’s final quarter for me.

Meanwhile, I had been locked in a dark space for months on the astral. I was kept there with a man who was hellbent on keeping me there, using my dulled senses to his advantage and making everything going on in the physical realm infinitely worse. I felt like I had no resources, that no one was really there (except my SO) to catch me. I was as inert as humanly could be — both here and on the astral. I could barely care for myself, and I looked for the light at the end of the tunnel… because surely there was an end to this, right?

I continued to drag myself along as best as I could. I was able to break free of the astral abuse I was suffering in April of 2016, and I thought that for sure I was going to be able to make headway now, right? But the damage had already been done, and by May my health completely bottomed out. Or so I thought.

Then I was able to get a new job in the summer. So now I’ll totally get better, right? Yeah, no. The new job ended up being about as bad as the previous one, and when I was finally laid off in 2017, I was thankful for it, because that’s how much I hated it there.

At each stage in my journey, I seemed to expect that with each arrival of something new, that I’d get better. There always seemed to be this overlaying notion that if I just get this one thing fixed, I will be pulled out of my mire, and things will go back to how they used to be. But the way it used to be honestly never came for me, and I’m now in a place where I can be thankful as I say that, because I don’t want to go back to how I was living before.

At the worst parts of my inertia, I felt like I was drowning. I used to describe depression as being in a room that is slowly filling with water. That some days you wake up and the water is to your ankles. Other days, it’s around your waist and you have to stack up the furniture to try and stay dry. But when my health really began to run out, it was like being thrown into the middle of the ocean, and being held underwater by about 30 feet. I went through each day with constant screaming in the back of my head. I was always on the brink of tears, and there were many days when I would lock myself in my office and cry behind my desk because I couldn’t figure out what else to do about it.

To hearken back to the scene from My Heart My Mother in Hour 2 of your trip through the Duat: I wasn’t just inert in the mud. I had been fully consumed by the mud. I had been completely encased in mud, and after 4 different doctors, I was beginning to think that this was all I could ever hope to achieve in my life. I felt devastated. That this was all I had to look forward to — endless suffering while I tried to survive in a capitalist nightmare. I had to give up everything I loved — writing, religion, the gods, most of my astral work, most of my day job, exercising, going places, independence, doing things, eating stuff. I felt like everything had been taken. And with the current events that have happened in our country in the past year, with every passing day I felt surer and surer that I would rather be dead than alive.

To the point that when I did get laid off, we were genuinely concerned about leaving me alone by myself all day. Both my SO and I feared that I’d get so distraught from being alone in the house that I might take matters into my own hands. So when I say it was dark, I mean dark. The darkest I’ve ever been through.

Being stuck in a place like that is awful. Downright. Awful. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I tried to get out, only to slide right back into my mud cavern. I’d muster up the strength to try a new doctor and come home devastated as they ignored my problems. I’d muster up enough energy to try and do something social, only to be bed ridden the next day. I’d work so hard only to end right back up where I had started. Eventually, you get tired of that. You get tired of gathering up the last of your resources for “one more go” only to end right back where you were.

After a point, when you can’t get out, you turn your anger inwards. You begin to hate yourself, and hate the world for putting you there. You get mad that no one can seemingly help you, and you question if they are even willing to help you. You get mad at yourself for not being able to pull yourself out of it, and with each failure, that hatred grows. You begin to eat at yourself until each tiny morsel is gone. In many ways, it reminds me of a wild animal that’s caught in a trap. You’ll lash out in fear at anything and anyone that comes around you, and you’ll get so desperate that you’ll eat your own limbs to get free (except you won’t get free because the limbs seem to grow back.)

In the worst of this, only O would come to mind. I hadn’t heard from my gods in months (last contact was… sometime in 2016,) and I felt abandoned. The reason Osiris ever popped up in my mind was because he himself had been through death. He was the only one I knew that had been inert like this and lived to tell the tale (though for those of you keeping track, Ihy is the deity par excellence for this sort of situation.) I questioned what he would do, how he would handle this. I was reminded of how he was kept in a safe space by a snake, and when O finally reached a point where he wanted to move on, to pick up his limbs and more forward, the snake wouldn’t let him. He would ultimately have to force his way out of the snake, cutting through that barrier to get free. And as much as I hate to say it, it’s technically the answer to all of this: you have to keep trying.

And for those of you who are in this state, I can’t urge enough how important it is that you keep trying (lesson 2.)

You’re not going to want to. It’s not going to feel good, and it’s probably going to be messy. My recovery has taken three specialists, which took about a year and a half of searching to really find. It’s cost me hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars and lots of my time and patience to get there. And I know that I’m one of the lucky ones because I had the ability and resources to even attempt to get to where I am now. For those with less income, time and resources to work with, it’s even harder to find your way out. But what I am trying to say is that there is a way out, and it’s worth it to keep looking for it.

For me, the major headway was made when I added my final specialist to my team of physicians. She has me on 48395746 different supplements, and has forced me to change my diet significantly to combat the inflammation and histamine overload that is happening in my brain. It’s not perfect, but I can keep my head above water and most days are better than not. Arguably, it’s the first time I’ve felt what happiness might even feel like (which shows you how important the right diet and supplementation can be for depression.)

Working with my therapist has allowed me to process a fair amount of issues. It’s given me more space to react to triggers and has allowed me to be more objective with my emotions. It’s also allowed me to take a lot of what I’ve learned and apply it to my SO so that they can begin to move forward too (because we can’t afford to have both of us at the therapist right now.)

And working with my DO has allowed me to finally fit into my body better. I actually feel like I live in my form now, as opposed to being only a fraction of the way in. It’s also because of him that I found the therapist, and because of the therapist that I found the doctor.

In Egyptian funerary texts, you often see passages that urge the deceased to pick up their limbs, gather their pieces, and to ultimately pull themselves back together so that they can move forward. I think it’s useful advice for those of us who are stuck in the mire. It’s hard to keep yourself together when you’re strewn about on the ground, but what is important is that you try, and that you keep trying. Finding a fire and motivation to keep doing what you can. Grabbing what limbs you can, attempting to find little ways to improve your situation, to gain some headway with yourself, and to ultimately stop eating yourself alive. Finding the right people who can help bring your limbs closer and help you to find other sources of food that aren’t your heart makes this process easier, and I’d argue that to some extent having that external support is necessary to getting out, but at the end of the day you have to want to get out.

To sum up this hodge-podge of a post, I give you this, a quote from Hathor Rising by Roberts:

To “become Ihy”, a person must be prepared to experience the raw materiality of existence- blood, feces, and bodily fluids- all the messy substances and liquids which are there when life is pushed forth from the womb.

To tread this path to new life a person must also be prepared to seize and take possession of Ihy, for he eludes those who wait passively, afraid to summon up his zestful powers: ‘I show the paths of Khepri, the Netherworld dwellers follow me, this Osiris N takes possession of Ihy, this Osiris N captures Ihy for eternity’

His zest for life drives out all fear […] has an ability to entice others into making difficult journeys.

And to bring it home with what O told me all those years ago as I was thrown head-first into Rosetjau: you can be passive in your death, but you can’t be passive in your rebirth.

 

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The Fight For Yourself

Before I start this post, I wanted to thank everyone who gave me feedback from my last post. It’s great to see that I still have a readership despite being awol for the past year or two, and I’m glad to hear that people like my less informative posts, and were still down with seeing more of my shadow work stuff. So a lot of love to all of you ❤ and with that, now for the actual post…

Being chronically ill is frustrating.

Of course, many of you reading this know that, but it bears repeating all the same — being chronically ill is frustrating. It’s a constant uphill walk, filled with schedules and things you have to do, along with a lot of not-doing things that you want to do. It requires a lot of will power and discipline, which illness loves to collect from you as though it were extracting a fee. It also costs a lot of money and time to be sick all the time. I’ve lost track of how much dough and how many hours I’ve dumped into various doctors appointments, prescriptions, supplements, etc.

When you consistently hate yourself, this battle becomes even more difficult. You end up burning the candle at both ends — telling yourself that you need to do something, because its good for yourself and will make life more bearable, while simultaneously hating yourself for being sick all the time, for making your own experience on this planet even more difficult and frustrating.

Or at least, that’s how it has always been for me.

When I first started therapy, one of the first things that we discussed was the fact that I was so super mean to myself. I was always super critical of everything I did. I was very much like a non-stop version of this:

There is a reason why so many of us end up with this sort of negative internal self-talk. To pull from someone who knows more about this than me:

A flashback-inducing critic is typically spawned in a danger-ridden childhood home. This is true whether the danger comes from the passive abandonment of neglect or the active abandonment of abuse. When parents do not provide safe enough bonding and positive feedback, the child flounders in anxiety and fear. Many children appear to be hard-wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism.

A prevailing climate of danger forces the child’s superego to over-cultivate the various programs of perfectionism and endangerment listed below. Once again, the superego is the part of the psyche that learns parental rules in order to gain their acceptance.

The inner critic is the superego gone bad. The inner critic is the superego in overdrive desperately trying to win your parents approval. When perfectionist driving fails to win welcoming from your parents, the inner critic becomes increasingly hostile and caustic. It festers into a virulent inner voice that increasingly manifests self-hate, self-disgust, and self-abandonment.

The inner critic blames you incessantly for shortcomings that is imagines to be the cause of your parents rejection. It is incapable of understanding that the real cause lies in your parents’ shortcomings. […]

A traumatized child becomes desperate to relieve the anxiety and depression of abandonment. The critic-driven child can only think about the ways they are too much or not enough. The child’s unfolding sense of self (the healthy ego) finds no room to develop. Their identity virtually becomes the critic. The superego trumps the ego.

In this process, the critic becomes increasingly virulent and eventually switches from the parents’ internalized voice: “You’re bad” to the first person: “I’m bad”.

This is unlike the soldier in combat who does not develop a toxic critic. This process whereby the superego becomes carcinogenic is a key juncture where ptsd morphs into cptsd.

(you can read more quotes from Walker’s CPTSD book here.)

In Kemetic circles, you will often hear about how one should “not eat their heart.” In a way, its saying not to devour yourself, to destroy your own essence. Arguably, it’s working against ma’at to eat your heart on a regular basis. It undermines your health, your life, and what the NTRW have given you. Yet for someone like me, eating my heart was all I seemed to be doing. It didn’t look like it on the surface, but deep down, I have always been mean and nasty to myself. I’ve always been bitter at my own limitations, at my own body, at not being what I thought I wanted to be (truthfully, I don’t think I even know what I wanted to be… back to not really having a clear goal of where I’m even going.) I think chronic illness adds another layer to all of this hell because it gives you even more “reasons” to hate yourself, and the society we live in often reinforces that hatred (because western culture doesn’t seem to like disabled people much.)

If my body is a microcosm of my world, and I were to translate how I treated myself to how the NTRW run the Duat, it’d be a case of only going to battle a/pep whenever it suited me. The citizens would cry out in the streets about how isfet was devouring the outer edges of our land, and I’d begrudgingly pick up my spear and bemoan about how I have to go do this yet again to keep our land safe. I’d be the most obnoxious “savior” anyone had ever met. And because of my lack of speed to even help battle a/pep, I’d then have to spend more resources cleaning up the damage after the fact. All because I wasn’t really in it to win it. My heart was gone, for I had eaten it. I wasn’t really fighting for myself as much as I was just… going through the motions and hoping it would work out.

And if we flip that narrative, how would you feel if you saw the gods drag their feet and get huffy every time they needed to go smite isfet? Would you have a lot of confidence in them? Would you want to put your energy into helping or backing them? Or would you be more inclined to not get involved? I suspect a lot of us would waver at the sight of our gods acting like that, and on an internal level, the same thing happens to our neglected selves, our inner children that watch our adult selves shirk off responsibilities and only half-assedly dole out love to our own beings, our own selves. As my inner child told me very early on in therapy, “You care more about your astral self than you do me. Why should I even talk to you.”

If there is one thing I could stress to everyone reading this, it’s that you have to be on your own side in order to win a fight against yourself (and by that, I mean, win a fight against your inner critic.) You can’t be passive in your love of yourself and expect to make headway in loving yourself.

I’m sure many of you are now saying “well that’s all good and well, but I don’t know how to stop hating on myself.”

The method that we used is rooted in the notion of having options. A major factor in PTSD and learned helplessness is the feeling of having no options to take. When we don’t perceive ourselves as having options, we feel like there is nothing we can do, that we are powerless; and often times it means that we don’t even give it an honest shot to try and be successful. The perception of having options (and therefore control in your life) is vital to moving forward.

We often generated options by asking ourself “well, what else might be true?” To give you a more concrete example, we often call ourselves lazy. When you find yourself saying “I didn’t finish it because I’m lazy”, you could ask yourself “what else might be true about that statement?” And you may very well realize that you’re not actually lazy, but are downright tired from a spoon shortage.

Another example might be “everyone hates me” converted into “I feel like everyone hates me.” One is a statement of absolutes, the other allows the possibility that maybe it’s not as bad as it feels right now.

The way that really made this concept stick for me was to step back from myself and go “if I was someone else looking in on me now, would I believe this is true?” Usually I am more forgiving of other people’s shortcomings and problems. I’m more able to be understanding and be lenient, to remind someone that they’re going through a lot, that they’re doing the best that they can. And in turn, I should be doing the same with myself.

I’ve found that this method works best with multiple people to help point out when you’re being mean to yourself. Very often, me and my SO will quip “what else might be true” or “why are you being so mean to yourself” whenever we start with the negative self-talk. It’s been very helpful for noticing those behaviours so that I can work to correct them.

If we believe that heka is an Important Thing, then we believe that our words have power and weight. And as such, we should therefore believe that mean words to ourselves are essentially our own internal execrations thrown against our own hearts. The more we execrate ourselves, the more salted the ground becomes, the less effective we become at everything. We are all amazing hekau — when it comes to execrating ourselves.

I propose that 2018 become the year that we master our internal heka, you know, the internal messages that we tell ourselves. That we truly start to fight for our own well being, for our own needs. That we open up to the possibility that we are not the pieces of shit our world has taught us to believe that we are. That we hold each other accountable, and ask each other to not be so mean to ourselves. That we help each other see our goodness and strong points. That we quit using our energy to break ourselves down, and instead utilize it to build ourselves up.

What untruthful things do you say about yourself? Have you considered whether negative self-talk could be damaging your relationship with yourself and your life? Will you end up working to create more options about how you talk about yourself?

Relevant Posts:

 

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Carving Out a Space

I had an awful dream last night.

In this dream, I was taken place to place by other people, not exactly following but not exactly leading, but ending up in situations not of my choosing where I always seemed to meet pain. Sometimes this pain was the form of people trying to get me to leave. Other times it was a more literal pain where I was being made to carry something with pins sticking out of it. In every situation, I may initially try to fight back, to draw a boundary out for myself and declare my needs and safety, but every time that declaration was ignored and met with more testing of those very same bounds. While the dreams were largely nonsensical, when I reexamined them upon waking, I found that there was a lot of my own experiences in them. A lot of me wandering around life, being forced to exist in a way I didn’t like, and never finding a way to really claim or enforce what I’ve needed.

When my health tanked, it took my ability to dream with it. I mean that in about every sense of the word “dream” — in that I no longer dreamed while asleep, and I no longer had any dreams while awake. I lost all purpose. I lost all direction. Upon starting EMDR treatment, my dreams returned to me, albeit in a patchy sort of sense. And upon switching over to Brainspotting therapy, my dreams have turned this sort of hectic mess of pieces and parts all taped together in a slightly incoherent fashion. I believe it’s my brain trying to grapple with the situation that I’ve found myself in. I think it’s trying to process while I’m asleep, to find a way to accept what is around us.

Acceptance is a common theme in therapy as of late. My therapist urged me to consider finding a way to use my voice to find some acceptance with my past. I’ve never really liked the word acceptance — it’s often been used as a bludgeoning tool (right up there with ‘forgiveness’) where people are actually less concerned with my acceptance of a given situation, but are more concerned with me being quiet so that they can be comfortable again. They don’t care if I actually accept a given situation, they only care that it appears like I’ve accepted it so that they can move on.

Further, the off-shoot to “acceptance” is usually “letting go.” “We need to find a way for you to be able to let go of your past trauma,” she’d tell me. However, the notion of letting go of something I’ve kept so close to my chest for all these years invoked a panic within me. The idea of losing the only thing that I do have, however painful it might be, was too much. And some portion of myself just couldn’t bear the notion of letting go as being a good thing.

In light of this, we have begun to call it “changing my relationship with” or “coming to terms with” instead. How can I find a way to change my relationship to what I’ve experienced. How can I come to terms with what I’ve been through, and yet still make a path for myself that is more enjoyable and content than where I’ve previously been. There is no pressure to feel things I don’t feel (acceptance) and there is no pressure that I’ll have to endure more loss through “letting go.”

Of course, the next question stirring in my brain was: how can I find a way to enforce those boundaries that I tried so very hard to grapple with in my dreams? How can I find a way to reject the pain that others repeatedly thrust and forced upon me while still maintaining some amount of relationship with them?

My therapist suggested that instead of focusing on the how, I spend more time looking at what it looks like and feels like to be in that space, that space of acceptance and understanding. I thought about that for a couple of weeks and came up with an incomplete list of what I imagine it would be like to be free of my past:

  • I would no longer be bound by fear and anger from my past.
  • If confronted with similar abuse or situations that mirror my past trauma, I would be able to maintain a clear head and stay present in the moment with minimal inner turmoil/upset.
  • I would be able to interact with people who are similar to my abusers and not carry their baggage home with me.
  • I’d be able to define my needs and enforce them. I’d be able to enforce boundaries as needed and leave situations that don’t serve me without guilt.
  • I’d be able to live the life I want, without feeling pressured to be what my abusers wanted me to be.

While I expect this list to grow and become more involved as I get further on this path, it at least gave me an end goal to reach for. It gave me a sort of destination or target to try and hit.

And more importantly, it gave me a mental image of where I want to be, and I’ve been using this mental image when I feel myself becoming worked up by my trauma. I’ve found that when I start to get caught in old trauma-based patterns, I can ask myself “is this where I ultimately want to be? Does this look like what I expect my new relationship with my past to look like?” and if the answer is no, I can try to realign myself to what I am looking for in myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but all in all, it seems to be helping.

Ultimately, though, this is leading up to what I am calling “carving a space.”

In an attempt to figure my own situation out, I have been watching other people’s experiences in regards to changing their diets and dealing with depression and chronic pain. A set of videos that has stuck with me are the few that Simona and Martina have released about her chronic pain and her subsequent depression. In her mind, there is a practice that she calls “building a ladder,” which is basically where she wakes up in massive pain, and tries to build herself a ladder out of the pit she woke up in. I could understand what she meant, even if it didn’t quite work for me. But as the weeks have gone on since watching that video, I have found what has begun to work for me — carving a space.

In my dream, I was a passive participant in everything going on. I only chose to speak up or act with initiative upon receiving pain, and with any amount of pushback, I would quickly devolve into sadness and anxiety. I was never good at enforcing what I need in the face of adversity. In many ways, my life has also been this way. I have felt like I’ve had no options, and that I was always stuck to the whims of the world around me. And while it’s true that children often don’t have options, as an adult, I have more choices and more freedom to create a life that I want, not one I was thrust into.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be changed very readily. For instance, I can’t easily move from this location. The idea of being in a place that is near the ocean or green and wet has always appealed to me, but I will likely never be able to do that on a permanent basis. The most I can hope for is to visit such places. Similarly, I am stuck in my body, for better or worse. While the difficulties that come with having this body are challenging and frustrating, at the same time, I need to find a way to work with my body because it’s the only one I have. Or in other words, I understand that I have options, but sometimes my options aren’t feasible or reasonable anytime soon. As such, I need to learn to work with what I have to get what I want.

Carving a space originated (for me) during a session with another person, wherein they were shown an image of their body. Their body was not shaped in a way that made living inside of their body easy. It was the equivalent of trying to fit your foot in a shoe that is 3 sizes too small. The metaphor here was trying to communicate that this person needed to find a way to make their body fit them better — through whatever means was best for them. Whether that meant exercising or taking better care of their body, or decorating it in a way that felt more genuine — they needed to find a way to mold their body to fit their actual shape.

I began to look at my life in the same way. It’s a shape that has been partially formed by others, and is partially beyond my control. However, I am able to work to carve out a me-shaped space in my life that makes life more bearable, more livable. This began with looking for things that made me happy, and partaking in those joys whenever I could. I began drawing again simply because it brought me joy. I began to do things that were only for me, and didn’t necessarily suit anyone but myself.

I have slowly begun to expand this practice to things I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that will ultimately help me do things that I want to do. For example, I want to begin backpacking so that I can go to parts of the state that are greener and have more water. And to be able to do that, I need to work on improving my health and stamina so that I can walk longer and go further. In the meantime, I visit smaller places that have things I enjoy, such as ponds that have ducks and other birds, to keep my brain happy with what is readily available to us in the here and now.

I feel like I have spent the majority of my life building things for others. Working to help others improve their lot and get to better places. For once, though, I am taking the time to improve things for myself. In a sense, it’s a matter of committing myself to the fact that I am alive here in this place, and that this is a life worth investing my time into.

For years, I have pondered on the notion of using the Self, your own body, person and life, as a shrine to devotion that can ultimately serve the gods. In a way, I think this is a part of that. I can’t claim to be a shrine for the gods and not take care of that shrine. I can’t claim to be living to the fullest for their sake if I’m not even willing to invest in myself, in my own life. I can’t expect to serve as a useful shrine, or even devotee, if I’m spending every day miserable, wishing my life was something that it’s not (or wishing that I was dead). Nor can I wait anymore for the currents of life to take me to a destination that is better. Instead, I’m finding it’s easier and more fulfilling to try and get there myself. To carve into the life that I have, and make it more livable and suitable for my needs. In a way, it’s like decorating my house, finally putting some paint on the walls and investing in furniture. It’s reminding myself that life doesn’t always have to be awful, and that I don’t have to always take what is thrust upon me.

I’m not entirely there yet, and I’ve still a long way to go to really truly embracing that on all levels, but I think I’m at least taking the first steps to getting there. And every journey has to start somewhere.

What do you think about carving space into your life to make it more enjoyable? Do you find it hard to invest in yourself or your life? What ways or methods could you use to change that?

**As a post-script, I would like to know if any of my readers would find any benefit in more posts like this that discuss either where I’m at along this journey, or what I’ve learned from therapy that you yourself may find useful in your own life. Or would you rather things stay more Kemetic/pagan driven? Thoughts?

 

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The Evolution of Mental Illness

I was recently participating in a discussion on Facebook about the negative voices that live in our heads, and heka that can be done to keep them at bay. In the post that was sparking the discussion, the author suggests that giving the negative voices in our heads a name and a form can help us to sit down and discuss things with them. It allows us to interact with parts of ourselves so that we can learn more about who we are, and more importantly, what causes some of these voices to speak up as they do. The long-term goal, as far as I could tell, was that by conversing with these voices, you’d hear less from them in time.

This got me thinking about the voices that pop up in my own head. Of course, I’m not talking about the voice of the gods or spirits that I work with. I’m talking about the voices that often tell me that I suck, or that remind me that I’m not doing as much as I’d like (often stated as “not doing as much as I should“). I’m talking about negative voices that often come with mental illness.

The more I began to mull over what those voices that embody my mental illness try to tell me is the “proper” reality that I live in, the more it really hit home that conversing with my internal voices probably wouldn’t do much for me. Why? Because I’ve found over the years that my mental illness evolves. You see, when I was younger, those voices would still tell me that I suck, but they’d use different reasons to showcase why it is that I suck. For example, when I was younger, I was a lot more isolated from other people, and I was frequently wracked with loneliness. So my voices would remind me about how no one really liked me, and how I could very easily just disappear and no one would notice, and I believed what my mental illness told me because I had nothing to prove them wrong. But now that I’ve worked through some of that baggage? It’s no longer used against me. If my voices want to bring me down, they know that that angle won’t work anymore, and so they choose a different soft point to poke at (such as “this particular person doesn’t like you and never will because you suck” etc.)

This is probably even remotely possible for me to detect on my end because of the shadow work that I’ve done over the past several years. I feel as though my trudging through life with all of my issues was a relatively plateaued affair until I began to actively hack at it in my late twenties via shadow work. Or in other words, my mental illness could hit me in the same spots over and over again when I was younger because I wasn’t making leaps and bounds worth of changes in the mental illness arena. The same issues and concerns I had in late high school were relatively similar to the issues and concerns I had in my early twenties. It only really shifted once I began the shadow work process.

But this highlights for me one of the ultimate caveats to shadow work that doesn’t seem to be spoken about enough–sometimes all the shadow work in the world won’t actually fix everything. I know I talked about this briefly in my post about shadow work being an ongoing process, but it really hit me hard when I realized that as I was beginning to learn how to outwit and overcome my mental illness, my mental illness was evolving to learn how to outwit me.

A side effect of this is that the voices have changed their ‘sales pitch’ to fit whatever topic is the most damaging at any given point in time. Once upon a time, my anxiety and depression could get away with telling me just about anything, and I’d believe it. But now they both have to work a little harder by formatting their statements a certain way in order for me to listen.

This probably sounds like an improvement, and in some ways it is. Due to the work I’ve put in, I can now shrug off certain statements that my brain will fling at me, and certain topics are relatively harmless to my mental health (in comparison to before). But don’t get me wrong–just because these mental illnesses seem to have to work a little harder to figure out what to tell me to get me to sink doesn’t mean that it’s still not effective. Nearly two years of being in mental illness hell is proof that these illnesses are very much in full swing and are effective at crippling me when they want to.

Another way to possibly illustrate it is to compare it to holes in a boat. If I have a boat that has a large hole in the bottom, there is no getting away from the fact that that sucks. Boats with holes don’t float very well. But let’s say that I learn how to somewhat patch this hole up, and now I have two smaller holes instead of one large one–some might consider that an improvement, but my boat still has holes in it. And that’s how I feel when I look at how my mental illness has shifted over the years. In some ways it’s an improvement, but I still have to live with mental illness. And that mental illness is still damned effective at doing what it does despite all of my best efforts.

The biggest point I really wanted to emphasize here is that shadow work will only do so much. Not many of us emphasize it enough, but there is no getting away from that fact: shadow work, therapy, all of these things that we use to try and heal ourselves from our trauma–they only go so far for some things. All of the shadow work in the world won’t erase mental illness, nor will it fix everything. You can definitely wage war against mental illness and push it back a bit, but just like isfet, it is always there lurking at the corners of ones mind. Just like with the gods working to maintain ma’at, the work we put in to stay as healthy as possible with mental illness is a non-stop, never-ending process.

And similarly, if you find that you’ve been working for years trying to get headway with your mental illness, but find that you’re still only treading water, please know this: you’re not alone. Fighting against mental illness is hard and it’s a non-stop battle, and you’re not less for not being able to squash your mental illness down entirely. While so much of the world seems to want to imply that you can somehow teach your mental illness a thing, and make it so that it no longer effects you, that’s simply not true (and honestly smacks against the fact that it’s an illness). And if my experiences are any indication at all, as you improve at waging war against your illness, your illness could get more adept at waging war against you.

Because I haven’t said it enough, remember that shadow work is a tool in your toolbox, and the same way that a hammer doesn’t work that great for putting screws into something, sometimes shadow work isn’t the right tool for the job. Sometimes you’ll do your shadow work exactly as you’re supposed to, and you’ll still come out not completely healed. This isn’t necessarily your fault, but is the nature of living in imperfect bodies that are often riddled with illness. You’re not bad for not being able to fix an incurable illness. You’re not bad for not being able to “magic” such things away. And don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Have you found that shadow work only goes so far with mental illness? How do you combat this? Have you found that your illness has evolved or changed it’s “angle of attack” over the years?

 

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Spirit Work & Mental Illness

Alternate title: Quit romanticizing my illness.
Alternate title #2: Quit demonizing my treatment.

Every so often I will see little flare-ups in the pagan community that center on two fairly unrelated topics: spirit work and mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, these topics can be related, but they aren’t necessarily related, though many people try to make them out to be. I’m sure many of you have seen articles like this and this that go on and on about how we’re killing our spirit workers because they have mental illness and are not handling it “properly”. And if we’d only just learn how to “properly” handle these “gifts” that we’ve been bestowed, we’d suddenly find that our problems would poof out of existence.

Being a spirit worker myself, I read these posts and feel my jaw clench shut as I find rage welling up in my stomach. These posts are so damaging on so many levels, to both spirit workers and the mentally ill (as well as mentally ill spirit workers), and it really bugs me that so many people don’t see what is wrong withposts like this. There are so many flaws with these kinds of posts that it’s almost impossible to know where to start when critiquing them. But here are a few of the main problems that come to mind whenever this sort of stuff shows up on my FB wall or dash:

Your illness is really a gift from the divine!

One of the first issues that I see popping up with these kinds of articles is the idea that  your mental illness is not actually an illness or a problem, but is really a gift from the gods. And if you’d just learn to accept that, you’d feel all sorts of better! This is also sometimes presented as “if only our society would see the inherent worth and value of your mental illness, you would feel all sorts of better”.

The truth of the matter is, most of the spirit workers I’ve met who are also mentally ill don’t feel like their mental illness is “divine”. I’m here to tell you that I don’t perform as well as a spirit worker when my mental illnesses are flaring up and ruining my life, and it seems like many people feel the same way. Even if society were to somehow make it a-okay to be depressed and anxious all of the time, I would still feel pretty miserable regularly, and wouldn’t be able to operate at maximum capacity.

Mental illness is an energy suck. It sucks the life out of you and leaves you feeling drained, tired, and miserable (most of the time). I can’t imagine how anyone would find this to be divine in nature. Quite honestly, I would expect being tired, drained and miserable would be the opposite of being divine. And no amount of outside support is going to change that my illnesses leave me feeling like crap on the regular. You can’t sunshine and rainbows away mental illness. You simply can’t. And implying that this is a gift is like spitting in the face of every person who has to work really hard to function despite their mental illness/es. Implying that someone with mental health issues doesn’t really know what their illness “actually” is is also ableist. Of course, if you are mentally ill and wish to make it a part of your spirituality, or find that it is a source of power for your spirit work, that’s fine. But it’s one thing to believe that your particular mental illness is a strength for you, and quite another to imply that everyone else who is mentally ill should operate the same way.

I’ve also never understood why so many people believe that mental illness always makes you a spirit worker. I have been depressed and anxious for as long as I can remember, but spirit work wasn’t really a part of my life until I was in my mid-to-late 20’s. And truth be told, my mental illness didn’t really play a role in my becoming a spirit worker (and based off of what I’ve read, mental illness was not a common indicator of spirit work in some cultures in the past- physical health was another story, though). If anything, my mental illness often gets in the way of doing what I need to do Over There, and there are many times when I get really frustrated with the constant interruptions that crop up from my brain deciding that it needs to tank my mood right when important work needs to get done.

There are many mentally ill people who are not spirit workers, and who don’t want to be spirit workers. Conversely, I’ve met plenty of non-mentally ill spirit workers. I’m not sure where this idea originally came from, but it’s an idea that needs to stop propagating. You can be mentally ill and a spirit worker, you can be a spirit worker who isn’t mentally ill, and you can be mentally ill and not a spirit worker. None of these things is necessarily related.

Medication is bad, m’kay?

The other factor that I see constantly brought up in these articles is the idea that if you’re using western medicine in any capacity, you’re drugging your abilities away, or ruining the gift that you’ve supposedly been given.

For anyone that has been following me for any amount of time, you know that I have worked on finding ways to medicate myself, and that I’ve had a fair amount of success with it so far. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to go back to pre-medication me. Medication can take all sorts of forms, and since mental illness can’t really be cured, we really have no place to judge what works or doesn’t work for another. So long as you’re being responsible and healthy about your medication choices, that’s really all that matters. The idea that medication is somehow going to ruin you is so damaging, and prevents people from seeking out treatment. It causes people to be miserable because they fear seeking treatment, or they feel like treatment makes them weak as a person.

Everyone really needs to stop implying that medication is inherently bad (you are treating an illness, after all. And if you’d take medicine for a physical illness, you shouldn’t be chastising someone for taking medication for a mental illness). There are so many people I have met (spirit workers and non-spirit workers alike) who have become better and more stable because of their treatments. I have met spirit workers who feel like their medication makes them better spirit workers. Because, wow, you can actually get more work done when your brain isn’t working against you.

Discernment? What discernment?!

Something else I’ve noticed when these kinds of posts are trawled out is that discernment seems to go down the tubes. In many ways, people seem to believe that if you happen to “see” something that “isn’t there”, then it must be a spiritual experience, and can never be a symptom mental illness.

The truth is that many spirit workers who have mental illness will tell you that there is a definite difference between the symptoms of their illness, and what they experience as a spirit worker. I have met people who have told me that their hallucinations have a very different look and feel in comparison to their astral visions and travels. I’ve met others who tell me that the non-existent things that they hear sound different than when a spirit is talking to them. I’ve met others who tell me that their medication has shifted their experiences (sometimes good, sometimes bad) and that once they took a closer look at their experiences, they could tell what was more induced via medication, and what was genuine.

However, when these posts start throwing the baby out with the bath water, and assume that all visions are the same- regardless of your “gift” of a mental illness, then we stop focusing on discernment and learning how mental illness and spirit work actually play together. Because they can play together, and there are distinct differences between the two for most of us who live with both. When discernment goes out the window, you’re creating a recipe for disaster, because discernment is key to staying safe while working with not only the Unseen, but within our community itself.

Why I consider this to be dangerous.

I personally believe that these sorts of ideas are not only incorrect and damaging, but I personally believe them to be entirely dangerous. They are dangerous because they don’t create an atmosphere where people who are mentally ill can actually seek out treatment that works well for them. The notion that all Western medicine is inherently bad and will completely screw you up often demotivates people to consider all possible treatment methods, and may cause people to skip over a particular treatment type that works for them. It may also be a strong enough argument to convince someone to stop treatment, even if it is working for them. And when people who are mentally ill don’t receive proper treatment, we often run into other problems that causes a decline in our quality of life. Buying into narratives that perpetuate this will cause people to get hurt in very real ways. I have met people who believed that they could spirit work their mental illness away, and let me tell you that the results were often not pretty, and in many ways, produced the exact opposite effect of what they desired.

This is also damaging to the spirit worker community and the wider pagan community as a whole. It causes people to feel inadequate in some ways, and gives people power that they wield poorly in others. The idea that all mentally ill people must be spirit workers creates a rift within the community, as those who are mentally ill, but not spirit workers may feel like they’re doing something wrong. “If all mentally ill people are supposed to be special, but I’m not getting anywhere, then I must be a screw-up, right?”  And if you happen to be a mentally ill spirit worker who is undergoing therapy or treatment, you may suddenly question if you’re also doing it wrong, because apparently these things will prohibit you from being as “good” of a spirit worker as you could be. Not to mention that it makes the spirit workers who are not mentally ill feel ostracized in a community that is already pretty small, niche, and hard to get into.

It sets up this expectation that most people will not meet, and that people shouldn’t have to meet, and yet people continue to push this narrative as if it’s 110% absolute truth. These ideas hurt those who are already vulnerable (mentally ill people) and inadvertently sets them up for a very likely failure. It takes the conversation off of important topics that could actually benefit mentally ill spirit workers (topics such as: how do I tell the difference between a spiritual experience and my mental illness, how do I tell the difference between the astral and a hallucination, how do I work around these crippling symptoms I am experiencing from my illness, how do you manage spirit work and mental illness, etc.) and puts the conversation onto a useless topic of “your medication is bad and everything would get better if you’d just become a spirit worker”.

Yes, it is true that our society doesn’t handle mental illness well. Yes, it is true that we would all benefit from having a society that accepts mental illness and treats it like the illness that it is. But I still don’t believe that spirit work is the cure for all mental illness (quite the opposite, really). I don’t believe that spirit work will make every single mentally ill person feel better (I’m still mentally ill), in the same way that I don’t believe that every mentally ill person is meant to be a spirit worker, or is even necessarily having a spiritual/Unseen experience (many of my symptoms have been exactly that- symptoms, not genuine spiritual experiences). In many ways, mental illness and spiritual experiences can have some overlap, but they aren’t inherently the same thing and it’s better for everyone that this becomes a more recognized and understood thing. I would love to see more discussion on their differences and similarities than the constant “they are all the same” that you seem to get in the posts linked above as it would actually help the mentally ill people that everyone is so intent on discussing.

 

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