After I came back from the Carter Center I was really bummed about realizing that so many high level mental health professionals had no idea of what was really going on in mental health care. I started slipping a bit on my self-care and not living as clean as usual. My back started hurting a lot, and my mom, a shaman, told me that maybe I was carrying someone else’s load.
I thought about it and realized that I was still carrying Al Henning’s spirit. Al Henning was my friend who died of depression two years ago after thinking that there was no real sense of recovery for people who had mental health labels. So I took my bike down to The Central Avenue Bridge where the spirits hang out and said, “Thanks so much for helping me carry some anger for me all these years, but I no longer need the help. I appreciate you doing so much for me, but now we both need to move on.” And I sent him home.
Leaving holes unfilled:
Unfortunately, I realized the next day that I’d picked up two more spirits when I dropped him off. Then I got some good news at work and my job started feeling more secure, so I went out to party. In my past life as an athlete I never used to celebrate wins or losses, just move on to the next tournament, so I now make an effort to mourn losses and celebrate wins. At the end of the party, when I thought I’d reached my limit, it turned out that my “last one” was something I wasn’t expecting. Someone had slipped me some kind of drug that I hadn’t meant to take at all. Here’s the whole story of that. I just knew it was some kind of hallucinogen and after a lot of figuring things out, I realized it was hashish.
I was pretty zonkrified and finally called a pagan or multispiritual friend of mine to see if she could help me through the maze and help move the spirits on. She helped me relax and take in the calmness of an oak tree and move the two other spirits on. I realized that if I could help people who end up in the mental health system due to spiritual stuff, it would be one more powerful tool. So I decided to start admitting that area of life was real, too.
But then I got overrun by spirits. People told me different stuff to make them go away but there were thousands, and I only knew how to send home a few at a time. For something like three days I kept trying to clear them all out and couldn’t. Finally I send out this panicky 3 am email to six different people to see what would come back. The original email had a lot more typos in it, though.
There are thousands of beings around me, ones that want to go home. I am trying to send them home but there are too many. I can only do 2-3 at a time and there’s thousands. But I can’t sleep with them here. It’s been four days of four hour only nights. I”m only sleeping when I take a Benzo and they don’t last long. I’m getting too tired to fight it and now I want to just go further into the pit instead.
I got back help from most of those people, and I’ll post blogs on both the Christian and non-Christian perspectives that I felt were useful. Finally a peer specialist told me to put barriers up with a sign that said to the spirits “Sorry I can’t help you. I’m not trained for this.” I think on Sunday I made a decision during a powerful ceremony to help fleshly people who needed help with spirits. But the spirits were confused and thought I was going to help them. So once I clarified, most of them left. My church helped me with most of the rest, about five of them that had evil intent and weren’t going to respect the “Not open for business” sign I’d put up. But using the name of Jesus and sending the away with love worked.
The grapevine intertwined thing:
Then I realized that one spirit was left. I thought it was the spirit of a son I was supposed to have but couldn’t when the mental health system sucked me in. It came to me based on this poem by ReeCee from Poetry for Personal Power. Later on my mom told me that it was part of me that I’d had to splinter off to make sense of the loss of dreams that the mental health system imposed on me.
The church told me that last spirit was evil, but I thought it wasn’t, it was just a benign being that had gotten stuck. So I had this sort of freakout where I was worried that my personal experience wasn’t being recognized as valid, one of the hardest trauma issues for many psychiatric survivors.
Finally I sent the last spirit home and made amends with the team from my church that had been helping me so much through the week that I’d walked away from for a bit while I dealt with the last part of the problem. It was a very tough week because in that same time frame, my dog got mauled by a pitbull, and the hallucinogen took almost a week to wear off. I also was sleeping only 2-4 hours a night and that started adding up for me and I had a lot of hallucinations and heebie jeebies by the end of the time.
The last piece I figured out when I talked to my art mentor, and realized that some of the problem was that I was terrified of a grant meeting I had that same week to ask for $200, 000 for Poetry for Personal Power. It’s just more money than I ever dreamed of for that program. He helped me through that. He said “remember your 4 word poem.” Rod’s poem that I did at the wedding. “Scared of greatness descending.”
It’s about how Rod helped me come closer to God after voices long ago told me to kill myself so I was afraid to pray for many years. It was the theme poem for the week.
Gaining a spiritual community:
One of the best things to come out of the week was a connection to a spiritual community. I’d always been somewhat irritated with Rod’s church even though it was where he became a believer. I just hadn’t completely faced my resentment against the middle class for the fact that I hadn’t joined them despite earning a college degree and working hard, which was supposed to be the formula.
I’d somewhat decided to grudgingly go back with Rod a month or so ago, but the way they came through when I was so desperate was so amazing that I felt like I come home in a way. I had to do a lot of personal growth that week, almost, I feel, in order just to make it through without getting so far into the pit that I didn’t want to come back. At the end I had a meeting with the prayer team that had been helping me, then I went into the church service and tried to listen, but the words were just echoing around in my head and didn’t make sense. I went back into the prayer room and tried to sleep but couldn’t, and sort of prayed and relaxed as I try to do at nights when I’m in limbo.
Two versus came to my head, the one in psalm 51 about having a contrite and broken heart being the only way to please God, and Luke 9 about “He who loves his life must lose in order to be saved.” I thought about that and went into the auditorium after service to pray with someone and instead met up with a lady whose son had just made a suicide attempt based on an antidepressant reaction. So I talked to her and gave her a Connect Power T-shirt and then sat around church for a while till Rod’s brother’s wife came out and invited me over to their place.
We talked for a while about scripture and my invasion of supernatural beings and my work crisis and hallucinations and lack of sleep and how the room could swim around and move like the walls were made of water. One scripture that stood out was the one where Jesus says, “I know you’re weary, but put down your burdens and take on my yoke. Because my yoke is light and easy to carry.” I talked about being afraid to trust people and about my tweetable religious conundrum:
“I’m a hypocrite if I’m a Christian who’s intolerant of other Christians for being intolerant.”
Because I think that using other spiritual traditions to learn how to handle spirits is not in conflict with Christianity. I feel like I can hold in my head a dialectic that sometimes Christians are both right and wrong at the same time. My other friend who isn’t a Christian had some really great things to say that helped me through the week as well.
The final meaning of the spiritual emergency:
There’s a lot more, but I think what’s happening is that I know that if I build my business, Connect Power, it can take down the entire mental health system in 2-3 years. Remove all the medications that do more harm than good and the labels that make people lose their dreams but don’t provide solutions. Replace it with systems that build jobs, build community, let people find what really helps them, to help each, to solve the 70% unemployment rate among folks with mental health labels. And do all this for practically no money at all.
I have this vision, but like the Apostle Paul, maybe I had to go through a thorn in my side so that I could learn how to handle this vision with humility and grace. I have to learn to trust that God and other people have my best interests at heart. To have the humility to simply share my vision and not explain what’s wrong with the current system. That if I stop fighting the Lord and learn to trust his guidance, only then can I create this thing that is bigger than me. And this three week adventure of being outside reality, the sleepless nights and spiritual attack, and finding 30 people willing to put long hours into bringing me back to the love of Jesus, this all had to happen.
Because what if Connect Power took over the world but I lost my soul? And what if the business was built without soul? Like it says in Romans 8:18, the whole creation is groaning out in anticipation of something coming. And we can only feel the beginnings of the first fruits of the spirit. Just as I only have the very beginnings of listening to the Creator, of knowing how to help people on a spiritual level. But I’ve almost lost my life so many times I was afraid to surrender it to higher guidance. But I’m trying, bit by bit, day by day, I’m trying to do this. And so, we’re back to my four-word poem,