In June of 2013, I was throwing myself between intense romantic relationships, both of which were - to my utter distress - crumbling. In my working life as a theatre student, my art had been going very well and I had been making breakthroughs in playwriting and in my acting. I had traveled from Seattle to California to visit my father for father's day - we have had an estranged and weak relationship I have been longing (and nervous) to patch up for many years. He is a sweet mouse of a man, never anything abusive. Looking back at the videos on my computer before this visit I can now see I was already entering mania, but for that point it was productive and exciting. However, in California, I had my "spiritual break", "manic episode", or whatever title suits you best. I had a huge relationship breaking fight with my lover, foolishly asked my long distance boyfriend to move in with me (we have not spoken since then), and thus began my full descent into the episode.
I had barely been eating or sleeping. I started rambling to my father about history from a woman's perspective over the entire course of human history as I know it - herstory - nearly in tears, saying, "don't you see? don't you see?" I sensed that I was falling down a slippery slope, and created an alternate personality for myself in the privacy of the bathroom, with clues for me to find my way back to my true self, so I would never lose myself completely. Her first name was my mother's middle name, and her middle and last names were borrowed from my best friend. I came up with a story for this girl, what she would do when she returned to Seattle, and what different relationships she had with my friends. When she was created, I came back to myself (by use of removing the physical object of a captive ring earring used as a fake lip piercing for Marie) and collapsed in the bathroom crying. Marie was an accurate name as I believed, then, that I was a conduit for Mary Magdalene, or the Virgin Mary, I wasn't brought up religiously so it was even harder for me to rationalize. The one thing I did know: my 'life's work' was to birth the next Messiah. No matter what else I did in my life, it was important that I went through the proper steps given to me
by the divine to accomplish this task. Biblical names were a clue: My friends Jacob and Joe were important: Jacob was to be a cleanser of previous sins to prepare me for the divine (I texted him and asked if he would have sex with me at the airport when I returned, it was important that I do this as soon as possible) and Joe, Joseph, quite obviously would be the father of the Messiah.
I am an avid television watcher, and rationalized my life's work through Buffy The Vampire Slayer: we've been on the planet long enough that there is not one 'slayer' born into a generation, but many across the world, each with a specific purpose. I was in the tribe of shamanic mothers.
Obviously, this all would sound insane to anyone, but it sent me on a journey of my physical body and how it interacts with the world around it.
To save this getting any longer, I'll cut to the chase. I believed I was a conduit for the Virgin Mary, yes, but also that I was Eurydice, Penelope, Emily Webb (from Our Town), Lane and Ana (from The Clean House), and didn't accept I AM until I was in the psych ward. Pretty soon after that, I accepted my bitter dose of Lithium, Risperidone and Cogentin (to counteract side effects of the other two) and nearly lost my mind with depression on returning to my life.
I am no longer on medication, I do not consider myself bipolar (but I do keep it in mind always, just in case) and I've come to the lovely place where I believe the divine exists in all of us. We are using a fraction of our potential, but we are not currently in a society that helps us create a sacred space for spiritual/shamanistic practices. It's a damn shame. I hope some day we can all harness the divine/collective/hopeful potential within us.Ben's Reply:
Thanks for sharing your story Jenna. As always, even in the most extreme states, there can be insights and wisdom to be gained. I'm glad you've reached a more balanced place. I would strongly encourage you to have some ongoing therapy to keep things steady, an available doctor that you know and trust, and a clear safety plan in case any symptoms return. Here's a simple safety plan that you can use, and give copies to people that you most trust in a time of need:Bipolar Safety Plan