Loud & Clear – An Open Letter.

In living color,

Our story was centuries in the making,
Masters of ecstasy,
They are shamans,
Called by spirits to heal bodies, minds, and souls,
And their numbers are growing.

~ A Goddess Goes Home | Elizabeth 

Wow! What a month! Blind rage is real, folks. I can barely remember this past month and I can say with certainty that alcohol was not a factor. Withdrawal from some medication, maybe. But the issues go deeper than that and it’s been a long time coming where I finally get a chance to state my case.
Public speaking is not my strong suit. But the more heated I get, the more I feel it is necessary. Go where you fear. There in lies your greatest strength.
It all started with minor triggers that set me off in the beginning of the month. I know what it was that finally broke me, however. And it’s silly in comparison to the bigger picture.
My 20-year highschool reunion was this month. I never intended to go, yet, I felt great anxiety as it approached and more so as floods of images from that night were strewn across my news feed. Everyone had a great time. And that’s great.
Now, I had an amazing highschool experience, so some long-held grudge or past bitterness was not the cause for me skipping out. However, some resentment recently, did spring up.
It is safe to say that I have committed social suicide approximately three times over the course of 7 years, after being diagnosed with Bipolar 1. And I don’t mean a day here or there, saying something humiliating or off-key – we are talking months on end. 3x.
As if this public humiliation, due in part to psychosis or a spiritual crisis (as I like to refer to it) …. as if that weren’t enough, I happened to catch wind of the fact that people who never even knew me or were ever close to me have developed their own harmful, mortifying opinions of me. I found this out through my boyfriend, who was about to go up in arms against the powers that be, in my defense. I heard cruel rumors, some of which included this idea that I was bat-shit crazy, I wanted to murder my family and that I traveled for sex, like some saddle tramp whore. Nothing could be further from the truth.
At first, I laughed it off. Then I was hurt. And then, enraged. It shouldn’t matter if they simply don’t matter in my life, but the core of the issue still remained and was what really bothered me.
If I have people who had not even been in touch with me via facebook, or any other means, form detrimental rumors about me, what are people who were in the know, yet largely ignorant to the true situation, saying about me?
It not only brought back nightmares of those closest to me destroying my reputation due to ignorance, fear and judgement (as if I somehow needed help with that..christ), but it also left me feeling utterly defeated in my cause and effort to not only right wrongs, but to spread awareness about stigma and mental health in such a way that reached those affected by it or that have lived through it.
I simply felt completely unheard, after 4+ years of writing my heart out, expressing it through art and published works. Which is the number 1 reason for much of my trauma and psychosis and spiritual emergencies. Number 1.
So it wasn’t about little Danny Boy down the road who happened to say hi to me in halls over lunch period spreading nasty rumors. It was about principle, stigma and the importance of voicing it and being heard once and for all…not written off as some broken vessel in the safe harbors of life, left to rot and fix itself with the opinions of others.
There are countless individuals living the life I see myself thriving in. Centered around spirituality in its rawest form, alternative modes of care and healing and freedom of expression. Yet, most of them were not locked up for their views and lifestyle, and since I was and was labeled mentally ill by a profoundly sick society, where psychiatry and big pharma reign, I suddenly have no voice and if I do, I have years of work ahead of me and mountains to climb before I am heard and understood.
Quite frankly, I feel it is wasting my time. As years go by, with little budging, I am realizing not much will likely change if we are consistently muzzled and snuffed out by the powers that be. So, in short, power in numbers. I am not the only one, and neither are you.
This is why I turn to those that have walked my path before, this is why I reach out to the unconventional and why I thrive in these communities. We all have a very powerful story brewing inside and it needs to be said, written or expressed in some form.
That is my goal. Period. To express my story and to encourage those of us who feel like we’ve been forgotten, to reach out and reveal themselves as whole, creative and amazing human beings. To tell their side of the story and to finally hit big pharma where I counts and snuff them out for a bit. I know, good luck…right?!
People’s opinions of us are not reality. Yet, many of us are caught up in this idea that it makes us who we are. It is not true. I’m very passionate about this, as I have suffered long enough with this oppression and abuse.
That being said, I was led down a very dark path the last 3 weeks, where much of my anguish rose back to the surface and boiled over. The reunion triggered me into a firestorm that I was determined to turn into good.
If this had happened two years ago, I would have ended up in an institution for sure. But I am growing wiser and being shaped by these trials by fire.
I am seeing clearly now, that this is my life. I must advocate for my true authentic self otherwise what is the point? Regardless of how hard this may be, it is do or die. I am wasting my life living someone else’s dream.
Due to my rage and confusion in this heated time, I opened up to my care and recovery team. They have called a group meeting on my behalf after I sent out some rather heated, yet concise, texts.
I want to assure them that this is no crisis, but things must be said now because I simply cannot go on living two lives, balancing between what society deems as appropriate and what I feel, as a creative and spiritual individual, is necessary for my recovery.
I have written out the following letter in hopes to gain some clarity, ground and understanding before I am yet again, blindsided by how my life and my recovery should look.
My recovery now lies not in recovery from addiction or even ‘mental illness’. I mean it when I say, the majority of my recovery is from the trauma experienced within the System itself, which ironically claims to heal.
Do you see how twisted this truly is? Does anyone hear me?
The following letter is for my notes and will undoubtedly be edited as I have time. I refuse to go at this like a charging bull or an injured, snarling canine. It must be clear, concise and well-said.
To Whom it May Concern, I have thought about the upcoming meeting and have decided against having family members attend. Although they are a support and wish for a healthy recovery, they are not welcome to hear where I’m coming from this turn around. I assure you, no one really knows my back story, as I haven’t even gone into this with psychiatrists or most therapists. Only my blog, close friends, and one trusted therapist know details and for good reason. 
The point of this meeting, I gather, is to all come together and make clear-cut goals so we are all working together on the same ones as to avoid confusion and being further overwhelmed, as I have been. Aside from that, I’m assuming I’ll get a chance to voice my concerns and my stance on my mental health and how I navigate through day to day life and what I feel works best for me.
For too long, I have been silenced by many, I feel. Immediately, it seems that I am shut down on how I see mental illness and what works best for me in recovery. I feel like my true nature and idea on recovery is simply pushed off to the side as a ‘hobby’ as I navigate the opinions, goals and desired outcome of others. I feel unheard, mostly by psychiatrists and some family memebers.
Much of my trauma has to do with former relationships, family member’s bipolar and psychosis, and the PTSD suffered from being silenced all throughout childhood up until 2 years ago. 
It is kind of absurd to ask me to be myself, open up and finally say what I need to, in front of individuals who assume I’m sick in the head for stating my views and standpoint on my life. I will no longer tolerate it and I assure you, they aren’t going to change their views any time soon, if ever. And I simply don’t have the nerves, mental capacity or patience to even begin trying defend my stance in their eyes. They will deem me as sick in the head, when in reality, it is simply another view point, one from which many have come. 
Aside from weekly visits with the care team, I have a whole other life of recovery I find very satisfying and honestly exactly where I need to be. I have tremendous supports from networking, spiritual supports and friends that have all rallied around me and have lifted me a great deal. Not many on the outside seem to acknowledge or encourage this, I feel. It’s literally like I am living two lives.
So, I sit here almost feeling like I’m playing a game with the system. Trying to fit into this mold of how things should be or should look in order to live up to these standards that quite frankly, I don’t really care so much about or consider to be a priority or important in my life.
I am just saying that the longer I am stuck in this vortex of pretending to be someone I am not, living a life of recovery through the lens of others and not fine tuning it to my needs, and the longer I have to literally choke down my views on mental illness and recovery, the sicker I become. 
I really would appreciate an opportunity to practice healing in my way. I feel I’m wasting tremendous amounts of energy and literally, years, as I recover into this mold of how it ‘should be.’
Having certain members there will only shut me down. It’s how it’s always been and I guarantee it won’t change anytime soon. I simply don’t need to be told I’m wrong, sick in the head or impractical one more time. That power of suggestion was one of the main reasons that I had such a long stint 2 years ago in institutions, the main reason for my rage and why I was delivered an IOC and a restraining order from my own family.
It is getting increasingly harder to live up to the expectations of others and develop myself as a creative individual who thrives in environments fostering freedom of expression, spirituality and growth. In one mirror, I see a mentally ill person, incapable of living independently and confidently as I have decades before. I see someone who cannot reach goals, who is lazy, unkempt, and defiant. In the other mirror, I rejoice at the sight of a dynamic and creative individual, not only fully capable of living independently but also one who adds value, beauty and purpose to the lives of those around her.
It is my right to gravitate towards those who see the best in me and allow me the space to make mistakes, grow and feel whole. In the system, I feel suffocated, underestimated, and stunted. It is of no wonder that, aside from 3 manic episodes, my life has been one depressive episode after the next since I was diagnosed and put on medication. 
The only therapist I truly felt connected to and felt made a huge impact on my life, my parents thought was a quack. It’s this kind of thinking that holds me back. He happens to be a Shamanic Practitioner and Rieki Master, has Bipolar 1 and is recovering about 35 years now from Alcoholism. He has literally walked my road and I find peer support is best for me, personally. I touch base with him from time to time, and I can at any time. He has gifted me countless free sessions in good faith that I would pay it forward in some capacity to others. Just because we have an unconventional view and way of healing doesn’t mean he is a quack and this is the kind of thinking that I simply will not accept in my life anymore. It is as if to say I am a quack and I am wrong, when it is essentially the fastest route to healing for me, personally.
My recovery and this team is very important to me and I am relieved that we can all sit down to talk about how to move forward. My rage and anger is a strong indication that things were about to take about turn for the worse and it also is a strong indication that I feel something isn’t being voiced that is important to me. I am just now figuring out what that is and it is a learning process that has taken over 10 years thus far. Thank you for your patience as I write this out and bring clarity to complexity.
~ Elizabeth

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