Born Different

by AJ
(Corona, CA)

From a very young age I understood that I experienced reality differently from those surrounding me. My pupils were always huge, I would go through periods, especially in middle school where I would not sleep for weeks at a time and be very alert, smart, but be completely in my own world. To say it was a very enjoyable experience is an understatement. I absolutely loved it, I felt like I was on a drug all the time but it was pure. I would get lost in movies, books, video games, looking up at the sky, I felt one with the divine all the time.

Things changed when I entered high school. My perfect life was shattered by divorce and death. I fell into a deep depression and completely isolated. I felt very misunderstood and alien. Then I tried marijuana. I instantly felt like myself again. Through my high school years I experimented with many different types of drugs and hallucinogens. Little did I know, the more I did, the less I would be able to feel what I was searching for, that deep spiritual experience. I decided to remain completely sober and am starting to come back to "reality" more and more every day. My journey has been one I haven't been able to really identify with in anyone else, but its mine and I'm waiting till the day when I can have that connection to the divine that I felt was mania/ and a spiritual experience one in the same.

My advice to others with mania/ depression: do not use drugs in any form. Even avoid caffeine. We are very, very, very, sensitive people and any chemicals unbalance us even more. We are prone to self medication, and I have tried all forms of meds, even psychiatric and they have only numbed me spiritually. I have found the 12 steps to be very beneficial with dealing with my depression and addiction issues. Exercising also helps even me out. When I'm in a manic state I just try to relax and enjoy it, and when I'm depressed I don't isolate or bottle it up. Not using something to even myself out has been a huge struggle but I know it is the way to go and makes me my most authentic self. I'm hoping to get to a very good place spiritually and it is my quest. I am searching for answers and anyone who has felt similarly to me. Thank you..

Ben's Reply:

Thank you for your post. "Energetically sensitive" is a term I often use to describe many of the clients I work with (some of whom have a bipolar diagnosis). And I agree - all substances have a strong effect. Even when people seem to really feel benefited by marijuana, in the long run it often seems to cause more instability and mood swings. Emotions are often suppressed or not fully processed when using pot and the feelings come up later and cause disruption. It takes an extraordinary amount of self-discipline and mindfulness to live a balanced life when you are this sensitive.

I would strongly recommend a daily meditation practice as well as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Chi Gung, to develop a strong nervous system and strong mental concentration and awareness. Practitioners of advanced yogic meditation practices similarly cannot play around with substances, certain foods, or negative influences or it quickly derails them from the path - the subtle states of consciousness that they cultivate through their daily practice require a pure lifestyle. It's not easy to live in this modern world, surrounded by so much toxic influence - junk food, media, drugs, alcohol, violence, body obsession.

Just remember that even spiritual practices like meditation can be de-stabilizing if done too long or intensely, or without proper guidance. Finding a supportive like-minded community is of tremendous value.

I wish you the best!
Ben Schwarcz

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