"Manic" or spiritual insight?

(Vancouver B.C)

In February 2009 I had what was called "Manic Episode" in Byron Bay Australia. Bryon just so happens to be a very spiritual place with extremly strong energies. Prior to my episode I had spent the previous 7 months traveling New Zealand. Things began to "click" in my head and everything I had learned seemed to be falling into place. It was as if I just understood. People I would meet and situations I would encounter seemed like too perfect of a coincidence. This was exciting to me, but everything is when you travel.

Then we drove up the coast to Bryon Bay and checked into the Arts factory. An amazing backpackers spot, with a powerful energy and very gifted beautiful people. One night I remember feeling like it was the end of the world all of a sudden, or it was in the near future and i had a stronge urge to contact my family and tell everyone. I became frantic and panicked and started to feel a strong sense of fear. I also felt a strong hurt for women and children and it was as if i could feel everyone's pain. I was eventually calmed.

Then a different experience happened. Over the next few days i slept very little and felt a strong energy and creative surge. I am somewhat of an artist however this magnified and i felt the need to colour everything and paste my art everyone. I was very loving and excited and talked constantly. People seemed to be drawn to me and hung on my everyword. This paralled with moments of anxiety and little patience. I was moving quite quickly. Then one night I could not sleep and I felt as if someone was trying to communicate with me as i slept. The radios in the other tents seemed to be talking to me and i felt a strong sense of connection i have never felt before. I felt a sense of purpose, not GOD, but peace and purpose. I felt happiness about exciting new things and almost a psychic feeling.

I was then taken to a psychiatric hospital where symbols, the tv, and experiences seemed to click and be sychronized. I was pleasant and happy and most people didnt realize why i was in there. All the time I was in there I felt something much bigger was happening in the world and universe.

After i left i felt this strong urge to discover what had happened with the stars. I was sure there was some type of shift or dramatic change that happened, that would help the world for the good. I felt a very strong connection to world and excitment.

Because I am not spirtually developed I had no idea what was happening. It was like I was just along for a big ride, that afterwords just left me in confusion. I felt empty, lost, flatlined. I didnt know what else to do. So we moved up to hayman lsland where i was sure meeting new friends would help. But after I got there I felt the need to get off immediately. I was so anxious, restless, and completly distraught by the end of it. I had to be flown back to canada.

This is when the darkness started. I felt that I had purpose and every second that passed people were dying and the world was in shambles. I felt connected to god but in a fearful way that I wasnt fullfilling what I was supposed to do. But I didnt know what that was. And that was the worst part. It felt as if I had to discover something or DO ANYTHING. But instead I was frozen in fear. Eventually I was taken to the hospitally and treated. The doctor told my mother to call 911 if I attempted to kill her. There was nothing violent about my state whatsoever. I was crushed.

Instead of voicing what was happening I assumed I was crazy and sat in silence. I rarely voiced my feeling or thoughts and felt like everything was closing in on me. I had an overwhelming feeling it was much more, something spirtutal that i had to uncover. It was as if I could feel the pain of every child. I would ball my eyes out uncontrollably for children for no reason. I could feel everything.

My 3rd episode happened and I actually voiced the words "i am god" although I knew i was not. I rememeber feeling something to urge me to say it out loud. It was going against everything I knew. However now I believe we are all manifestations of his energy and have god within us, so maybe that was a realization. This time i felt the polarity between good and evil and i felt i was being pulled in both directions. One night I lay frozen as if one movemement or thought would change the course of the world forever. It felt like I had the control to change the world, but because I wasnt doing anything I was the cause of destruction, sadness and despair. I felt I had power and no knowledge of what to do with it.

I went from being the happiest person, to feeling like the worst person in world, to feeling both good and bad. Both depressions felt like I had lost the chance to help shape the course of the world. That I has missed out, everyone else would enjoy heaven on earth, but because i was shown the truth and did noting, I would not.

Since this experience I have been great, but I am still left in confusion. I have always felt this was a bigger experience but didnt have anything to go on, until i googled manic or spiritual awakening one day I started to read. All I want to do from this point on is research and discover. I am open to both truths.

If anyone has any insight to the experience I would love to learn anything I can as I am just starting to discover the connection between manic and a spiritual experience.

My question is, if it was a spiritual experience and it was stunted with medication, was that only chance? Am I able to open myself up to this in a healthy way that I will be able to understand?

Thank you for reading.

Ben's Response:

Thanks for sharing your story. It is great that you are seeking a deeper spiritual meaning in your life, and in your experiences. Although your high's and lows fit with the classic symptoms of mania, followed by depression, to simply call this an illness, and disregard any insights that you had, would be an insult to all spiritual seekers.

I prefer to call this an "Energy Imbalance" rather than "Bipolar" or "Manic Depression." The same energy that is channeled into higher states of consciousness, psychic abilities, intuition and Self Realization, is the energy that fuels mania when it overwhelms the nervous system. In the manic episode, a person may experience these higher faculties of non-dual awareness - the connection to all humanity, to the earth, and to God... but because this state comes so quickly, and usually without the gradual process of a steady and safe spiritual practice to prepare the mind and body - it also leads to a state of confusion and ego. The mind, with all it's attachments, grasping, desire, self-importance, and fear will eventually distort the whole experience. What often follows is loss of consciousness, and either an inflated sense of (false) self, or a sudden deflation - a feeling of isolation or paranoia or despair, ending in depression.

This does not mean that the whole experience was unreal or meaningless. Like a powerful dream, we wake up and have to live in the "real" world, but that doesn't mean the dream wasn't of value. Important symbols, and wisdom can be gained by reflecting on the dream and integrating what you learned from it. You have to come to terms with the parts of your experience that were delusional, grandiose or distorted (and forgive yourself for that), and also accept whatever parts of your experience were glimpses of Universal Truths and guiding principles for your life.

I would suggest that you do some daily journaling about your experiences, as well as your dreams, and any insights you have. Also, practice a gentle, daily spiritual discipline, such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong to learn to channel and balance your energy.

It is very important to be disciplined and very mindful of anything that raises your energy or activates your mind too much. Even a good thing, like meditation, if done with too much intensity, can trigger mania for some people. Do these practices with moderation and with guidance and you will most certainly continue to gain self awareness, balance, and spiritual insight.

Best Wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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Dec 03, 2012
Using the experience for good
by: Liz

I really appreciated hearing your story and also thought that Ben gave a really helpful and positive response. I would just like to add something.
What you experienced was probably for a reason, and although it is so good to look after yourself and do yoga or meditate, I also think that it would be good for you to use this energy, this change in you, to actively help others. You felt like life and death for others hinged on you.. in some ways, in a real down to earth way for all of us, it does. You were given a choice in your experience, and I think it would be validating of your experience to make a choice to do something for others, as well as to look after your own well being. Maybe you feel like volunteering, or just visiting neighbours more, and getting to know the elderly or lonely people in your area. It needn't be anything completely life altering.. just about reaching out with a bit more confidence.
As a person that has gone through these kind of experiences, I care about you taking care of yourself. But I also want to validate the spiritual aspect of your experience, by saying Yes it meant something. It meant something in the real, grounded world of people you know and could do with your help. And I think that would be a great way of channeling your energy and making you happier too.
I sincerely hope that helps. Because I don't just think this is an illness.. I think this is a spiritual awakening which, if harnessed and put into action, will transform your life and the life of others.. really, groundedly and one day unsurprisingly.

Mar 14, 2012
Thanks for sharing your experiences
by: Michael

I enjoyed your story and could see in certain ways how it was similar to my own. It is nice to validate each other's experiences as normal in fact far from "crazy". Ben's response was superb. After reading your story and his response all I felt like adding was, "Yeah , what he (Ben) said".

I agree with Ben's suggestion in finding some form of meditation or yoga that supports you in learning to regulate and balance your energies so that you may channel them in powerful and productive ways. I don't know if you are on medication or not but a healthy alternative to drugs is something called EMPower Plus from True Hope. They are a non-profit company in Canada that makes a supplement that you can take that supports the Central Nervous System. Excellent Program and products! I've been on the program for 6 months and it's been incredibly helpful for me. That and being part of the bipolar support group Ben leads once a week. I also came to realize I had an addiction to "high" energy states and I would pursue those regardless of the consequences... very unhealthy. I wish you Blessings and Wisdom on your path.

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