Give me a Sign
About 20 years ago, some missionaries came to my door. I was not religious, but let them in because I was curious how they "knew" there was a god. I bombarded them with questions. They told me if I really wanted to know, ask god to give me a sign and he would. But, they said to wait until I *really* wanted to know. A couple of years later, I was laying in bed and decided I *really* wanted to know. I asked and was filled head to toe with the most amazing tingly feeling. It was so intense, like nothing I had ever felt before and as I was falling asleep, I just kept repeating to myself "do not ever doubt this".
I can't remember how long after that everything else started. It could have been a couple of years; it could have been a couple of months; it probably had even subtly started before then. I was going through an extremely stressful time and came to a point where I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. I started having panic attacks (not that I knew what they were at the time) and had all this excess energy I couldn't get rid of no matter what I did. That led to 5 years of panic attacks and anxiety. I also became very hyper-aware of myself.
At some point, I also started realizing my moods were shifting between extremes for no external reason. I knew nothing of bipolar at this time and thought everyone must feel the same way. I had always been a very reserved person, especially around people I didn't know and all of a sudden, I was having periods of time where I was extremely talkative and outgoing. I also felt euphoric at times and the colors outside seemed to be so vivid. I once threw my hands up in the air, spun around, and said "Isn't life wonderful!!" This was at work around my co-workers. I felt like people were drawn to me like never before. I felt popular for the first time in my life. I felt so connected and empathetic towards people. There were other times though where I felt completely disconnected and didn't feel like talking. It was a very confusing time.
I started recognizing these extreme feelings of euphoria and happiness were not normal. I tried to talk to people about it, but no one could understand the concept of feeling "too happy". How could feeling happy be a bad thing?
One day I woke up full of energy at 2:00 am. I *knew* there was a reason I had so much energy. I decided it was because I needed to clean. I cleaned like I had never cleaned before. As I'm running through the house cleaning, it suddenly dawned on me this guy I knew was coming over to ask me to marry him. It didn't matter that we weren't dating, I just *knew* it. I was so excited! Everything became a sign from god. I saw signs all over the place. I ran around like a maniac cleaning and getting ready. I called my friend at 3:00 a.m. to tell her. I called my mom at 4:00 a.m. to tell her, although I just said I would have very exciting news, not what it was because I knew she wouldn't believe me. I called work and told them I was taking a "Happy Day!".
When the guy didn't show up at my door, I went to his office. When I walked in, he was
surprised to see me which really confused me. I realized he didn't know he was supposed to be asking me to marry him. I figured I could wait till he figured it out. The rest of the day is pretty fuzzy.
The next morning I woke up and went to work. I think I had completely forgotten the day before until I got there. Images started coming back to me of the day before. I was stunned that I had actually believed the guy was coming over to ask me to marry him. That started 3 weeks of a leave of absence in which I was in and out of a delusional state of mind (mostly in). I felt like I was on a different plane of existence than everyone else; a spiritual one. Everything made sense and it was the greatest feeling in the world. Everything also was racing so fast in my mind I couldn't keep up with my own thoughts.
I have been on medication since then and even though I still have my ups and downs, they are not to the extremes I used to have. I have always wondered about the spiritual aspect of what I experienced. It's pretty confusing that a spiritual awakening has the same signs as bipolar. In the end though, I made the conscious decision to take medication so I could go back to the state of mind and existence of others and lead a productive "material" life while I'm on this planet. I recognized if I didn't no one would be able to relate to me and I wouldn't be able to support myself financially. Ben's reply:
Thanks for your story. It sounds like you did the right thing to keep yourself safe and stay grounded in the world. It's not a simple issue, to make sense of these experiences. Working with a therapist or coach who understands both the physical/medical side as well as the spiritual can be a great help in your process and help you find meaning and stability.
One important distinction between mania and spiritually elevated states is that often in mania there is a grandiosity, a sense of being more special or on a higher plane than everyone else and there is a sense of urgency or pressure, and impulsivity. In mania there is often a sense of restlessness and passionate emotion. Whereas in a purely spiritual state there there is more peace, thoughts are calm (not racing), and there is acceptance of everything and everyone without any judgement. It's a compassionate state rather than a passionate one.
The confusing part is that even in mania, there is a higher energy and sensitivity to emotions and energy. It is a highly magnetic state. More synchronicity happens. Beliefs are stronger and more powerful and make things manifest more quickly in your reality (though not always what is in your best interest). Intuition may be stronger. Spiritual truths or insights may become clear. It's like the lid of the pot that has contained all your repressed emotions and energy from your whole life, has been removed and it all comes out - both the positive and negative. That can be both exhilarating as well as terrifying, and of course can lead to dangerous behaviors for some people, or can really fragment the ego and make it hard to re-integrate your sense of self. Talking to someone can help you integrate and learn from those experience, while staying grounded and balanced.
Spiritual growth is a life-long path. We never stop growing and learning.