Sick in the head...

Stepping out!  As a little girl I remember my mother using funny sayings.  I hear them in my head and see her saying them in my mind's eye.  She would say things like "six of one, half a dozen of the other" or "running 'round like a chicken with its head cut off!" Things like "dumb as a sack of hammers" or my dad's favourite was "stand a post up beside him to see him move!"  Sayings that simply rolled off their tongue without a second thought. There were others that I would never put in print because in today's culture and context to even think them feels bigoted and oppressive to my human brothers and sisters.  So I let them fall through the sieve and fall away.

One of my mom's sayings was "sick in the head" a way of speaking about another person she could not understand or comprehend their actions or thoughts.  A way of describing that which she would set outside of normal.  A saying that most could understand with little explanation or detangling.

I  have been feeling pretty "sick in the head" for a while now. I liked this simple understanding my mother had; I just didn't feel normal.  But what is normal?  Who defines it?  By what post should we stand normal beside to see if it moves?  Is normal good, bad or indifferent?  Normal for me is a measurement of how I feel in my heart and my spirit.  I am a positive optimistic person and yet, over the past long while it seems, my positive optimistic self has been lost and steeped in a strong lack of desire to be anything but self destructive. The new normal for me seemed to be lost in a quagmire of broken dreams, loss of identity and a hopelessness that I could not overcome.  Each morning waking up, not with a sense of love for a new day but, with a dread that I did awaken at all and had to once again for another 12 hours or so put one foot in front of the other, putting on my mask and making others think I am okay.

Mental illness comes in many forms and my mother's simple statement of being "sick in the head" did little to describe or define the plethora of ways people can be mentally ill in today's world.  The term "mental illness" tries to denote and capture all that it means to be dis-eased mentally.  But all it does is put walls and boundaries around that which I see as a cancer more deadly that anyone can realize.  Like the term "cancer", mental illness is a catch basin for all that is life-taking with many, and still yet, so few cures.  Band-aids are used to prolong the facade of life much like when we gather with family for turkey, show our gratitude, play games, kiss and hug the babies knowing, bleakly, that winter is just around the corner.  It  has a false sense of security like this "40-day gratitude movement/challenge" picked up by so many because it sets up for failure, yet again, when mental dis-ease is a daily challenge.  It says somehow by showing gratitude it will make everything okay.  But it doesn't.

A state of mental dis-ease means a break in the flow of spirit and soul that leaves a crevasse which can lead to loss of life and light.  From this crevasse comes all the doubt, self-hatred and ego-rooted baggage through which drives the psyche deep into a darkness that often cannot be penetrated.  A black hole, much like those found in the universe, that is so dense with emptiness it takes a mother ship's tether to save.  I have been there in that darkness.  Sadly for some, and I can attest to this validity, ending it would be the easy way to ease the pain ... and oft is the path of choice.

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving Sunday, I walked in the sunshine.  I was going deeper and deeper down that crevasse sitting in my apartment and knew I needed some fresh air, Mother Nature's love.  It was one of those fall days when the air is crisp, the sun is shining, the leaves are rustling, and the squirrels are scurrying.  It was beautiful, yet in my heart I knew it was the falling away of time into the winter months when snow and cold temps will prevail.  I walked and I listened to my own pain, my own heart, my own spirit and  my own soul.  I fed myself sunshine, air and felt the blood flowing through my veins.  I laid on the forest floor looking up into the trees, watched my feet as they took me along the path, and peered intently into the darkness of my soul.  I am not afraid to go there, are you?

Part of my own mental illness is genetic and I strongly feel most people you see walking around today has some mental illness.  This is not to take away from the severity of schizophrenia or dementia/Alzheimer's but to partner with these extremes to know degrees of mental health are as common and complex as the rays of light you see in this picture.  From a common source mental disease fans out and is as unique as each shard of light from the sun over my shoulder in this picture.  No two are the same.

Like a tree my roots go deep into the ground and I grow toward the light.  I reach for the stars as well as the sun and along the way I grow different levels of coping skills.  I have scars and blemishes that I choose to honour and let other's see so it gives comfort to know they are not alone in their mental unrest.  Spirit Care 101 is a beginning.  A start to know your own primary existence, not that which has been imposed on you by caregivers, or taught to you by teachers, or beat into you by human relationships.  Honestly looking at our spirit, soul and inner world gives the darkness permission to bring to fruition all the goodness there is along side it.  The darkness is not to be avoided but to be cherished as a place where seeds are  nourished and sprout new life and only a journey into our own bleakness and fear can bring fruit to life and love. 

I am studying a couple of books right now which are walking with me as I explore the light and the dark of my life.  Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor is a wonderful segue and tool for walking your own journey.  I am walking it with a small group in Orillia and will be starting a small group in Bradford soon.  I also cherish Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore and would invite anyone who wants to explore these two books with  me to do so.   

This is not about "church", religion or faith in a higher power it is about looking honestly and carefully at yourself in order to see who you truly are.  I have been working with faith traditions now for over 20 years and, frankly find them empty and void without a better understanding of self.   I say this because blindly believing something is in charge or that if you simply have enough faith all will be well is simply not true in my honest opinion.  Faith and higher energy is only possible when you look deeply into the darkness and light of your own being. 

I can help.  I want to help.  Come into the dark with me and find yourself.  Become your own best friend, lover and companion and in doing that your world will explode with light, colour and love!

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