Category Archives: Psychosis

Forward-Thinking Psychiatry


190901zab77uqg3Talking Therapies reduce the risk of suicide or self-harm.

A few days ago an article was published in the media sharing the results of a Danish study. This study found that those who received 6-10 sessions of talking therapy after self-harming or suicide attempts were significantly less likely to self-harm or attempt suicide again. Participants were studied over a 20-year period.

New Ideas within Psychiatry

A week ago I attended the launch of Katie Mottram’s book Mend the Gap, an account of her unique experiences and perspective into psychiatric diagnoses and spiritual awakening. (You can read more about her book in my previous post: Mend the Gap: A New Hope for Mental Health.

Katie has first-hand experience having grown up with a mother who had repeated psychotic episodes and suicide attempts; Katie herself works in the mental health services; and also has experienced her own mental health issues. She explores the possibility that perhaps these ‘psychotic’ experiences and mental health issues are actually side effects of spiritual awakening.

Katie speaking at the launch of her book: Mend the Gap.

Katie speaking at the launch of her book: Mend the Gap.

The launch was extremely well attended and very well supported by Katie’s colleagues within the mental health services.

One of the supporters is Dr Russell Razzaque, a psychiatrist who has published his own book: Breaking Down is Waking Up.

He gave a fascinating talk about how he went into psychiatry having learnt all the tools of the trade at university, and over the years has found there to be something missing or lacking in mental health services and psychiatry. Having spoken to some of his colleagues, he found he was by no means the only one who felt this.

It wasn’t until he went on a retreat and began practicing mindfulness and meditation that he began to realise that some of his own experiences during meditation were not unlike those reported as mental health issues and psychosis.

Dr Russell Razzaque with Katie Mottram.

Dr Russell Razzaque with Katie Mottram.

Peer-Supported Open Dialogue

His experiences have lead to him running a new pilot scheme being trialled in various locations throughout the UK, and currently used successfully in Scandinavia, Germany and some of the US states.

Peer-supported Open Dialogue is a programme of talking therapy where meetings are attended by the patient, their family/social network and a psychiatrist or trained mental health worker.

What struck me in Dr Razzaque’s talk about the therapy was how the intention was for the psychiatrist to ‘leave his/her training at the door’ and to approach the meeting from a ‘human’ perspective, on the same level as the patient and attendees, rather than as an expert with greater power.

I think this is fantastic and will break down barriers between mental health staff and patients, which can sometimes feel like an ‘us against them’ process.

In Finland, of those who took part in the open-dialogue process, 75% who experienced psychosis returned to work or study within 2 years, and only 20% were still taking anti-psychotic medication after a 2 year follow-up.

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It gives me so much hope to think there are mental health workers who are really making a difference with their new ideas. Psychosis and other mental health issues can only become more normalised as a result, which in turn reduces fear and stigma, and supports and empowers patients.

Resources

Suicide Risk Reduced After Talk Therapy- BBC Article

Open Dialogue UK

The Open Dialogue Framework: NHS North East London

Hearing Voices Network

Mind Freedom: Finland Open Dialogue

Spiritual Crisis Network UK

How a Mental Breakdown Can Lead to a Spiritual Awakening: By Dr. Russell Razzaque.

How Many of these Spiritual Awakening Symptoms do you have?

Mend the Gap

Related Posts

Mend the Gap: A New Hope for Mental Health

Bipolar Disorder as Spiritual Awakening

Bipolar Disorder: A Spiritual Perspective for 2013

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Guest Post: Mental Health & Spiritual Crisis

Many thanks to Trish Hurtubise from Mental Health Talk for contributing this fantastic guest post to my blog. Mental Health Talk provides an online platform for those who have mental health issues to talk openly about these experiences.

Today Trish talks for the very first time about her own experiences on a spiritual level and has also created the cartoon!

Specialist help is available if you are experiencing anything similar to Trish. See the resources section at the end of the post.

Possessive-States Exported (1)

Possession from a Spiritual Perspective

Have you ever considered that your experience with mental health may be more spiritual than biochemical?

I have.

Or I should say I have started to look at my journey from this perspective. I have a few friends who have looked through this lens and it is amazing how much light it has brought to the darkest periods of their lives.

So I have chosen this guest post to be my first time articulating my journey as a spiritual experience and to be open to where it takes me. And so this post does not become an epic piece, I have decided to focus on my experience with “possession”.

Possession state

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “possession”? I think of the movie The Exorcist and Linda Blair’s head spinning around.

This happens to be the kind of possession I am referring to.

A possession state is considered a form of spiritual emergency. “Spiritual emergency” was coined by Stanislav Grof — a psychiatrist and pioneer researcher in the field of altered conscious states as a way of connecting with the psyche. He has written many books on the subject with his wife.

We have heard from Rachel on her experience with hypomania from the perspective of spiritual emergence, but when and how does spiritual emergency fit in?

When the initiation of spiritual emergence occurs and it is too dramatic for the individual, this natural process becomes a spiritual emergency. In my experience I remember initially an ebb and flow of profound connection with the Universe, receding into fear of the engulfing energy I could feel flowing through my body. Sometimes during these states of terror I believed I was “possessed”.

Evil: Up Close and Personal

I had been experimenting with the paranormal since 2000. Malevolent entities, black magic, the dark side of psionics, and hexes were a part of my life. It was this exposure I now believe fueled my idea of being “possessed”.

I experienced a traumatic event involving the paranormal in 2007 and was immediately analyzed and treated for spiritual shock via radionics.

But I was severely traumatized on all levels. My body and mind became plagued with visions of a dark entity with blood red eyes that would destroy my soul and overtake my mind.

I was all the more convinced of its existence because of severe neck spasms that tossed my head in all directions. There were times when I could feel a mass of energy moving from my gut up to my throat—I was sure it was the entity trying to choke me. I would go into a full blown panic attack.

Day after day I gathered every ounce of my resistance to stand against it. But there were times when I faltered and I would lay paralyzed waiting for my inevitable death. I would wait for hours.

It never came.

The Psychiatric Backhand Slap to the Face

I never told anyone about these “possession” experiences until…

I don’t know what triggered me, but eventually I moved back into emergence where I felt I had access to the collective conscious. I never felt so open and connected to everything before. It felt like someone had erased my edges and I had melded with the flow of the Universe.

I could articulate theories and philosophies I had never studied; visualize anatomy and neurological systems like I had memorized them, reading medical journals with ease; I could see the connections between people and feel love everywhere; my psychic ability was never so accurate; and my photographic memory was keen.

I began to write mathematical formulas using the spiritual laws as variables. I was on a mission to save the world and according to my theories, our earthly demise would come from the full suppression of feminine energy by the masculine (I have found out since this is an actual theory by mystics with street cred).

After relaying my findings to an alternative practitioner I trusted, he suggested I was psychotic and needed to be medicated.

I remember wanting to vomit.

The next morning I had my first (of many) gruesome vision of my death by my own hand. I was overwhelmed, terrified and unable to be alone. The dark entity returned and spiritual emergence turned to scrupulosity; I believed God was punishing me for not being strong enough to save the world and He would make me sicker and sicker if I did not prove myself worthy of His grace.

The dark entity as a possibility for spiritual transition

It was with the assistance of medication that I began to question the existence of the dark entity and it faded. Today I believe it was a state of mind; much like how Grof refers to a demonic archetype in a possession state.

According to Grof, this demonic archetype is a state of consciousness. Furthermore it represents the polar opposite of the Divine and can even be Its’ guardian. And if I would have been able to confront this dark entity with support, I could have experienced profound healing and transformation.

Of course because of the way my experience manifested, I was not in a position to even remotely consider the spiritual side of my “possession”.

Bummers.

How Has this Changed My Perspective on My Experience with Possession?

I find that reviewing this part of my journey in this way has left me with more questions than answers:

  • How would my experience have been different if I wasn’t labelled psychotic?
  • What would have been the outcome if I had a mentor to guide me through my experience?
  • Have I somehow aborted my spiritual evolution with medication? Will I get another chance?
  • Was the dark entity the antagonist I needed to be ready to save the world?

Around the time I started medication, I was strongly compelled to forget what I had been through. So I purged all connections I had to my spirituality. This involved selling and giving away $4,000 worth of divination tools, denying my extra sensory skills which I believed were from God, and ignoring my social connections to the world of the paranormal.

I quickly shut the door on my spirituality because I believed it was what had gotten me into this mental illness “mess”. It is quite ironic to me now that I would be looking at spirituality as a way that could have gotten me out.

But amusement aside, me writing this piece does bring my focus back to an exploration that has been forming since this journey started, yet I put off taking action because it brings me full circle…

I can feel it is the path to the rebirth of my spirituality.

What feels right to begin exploring is a less grandiose version of the feminine versus masculine theory I concluded during spiritual emergence… how the divine feminine plays out in my life and once empowered, how it will enable me to serve humanity better.

I see now I will need what I have become from my experience with “possession” to go down this path; someone who practices love and compassion to accept all states of being and experiences, including her own.

Perhaps my experience with possession is a result of spiritual emergence after all.

Resources:

Wikipedia: Stanislav Grof
Quote from “The Stormy Search for the Self” by S. & C. Grof re possession states
Spiritual emergency blog
Wikipedia definition of psionics
The Radionics and Dowsing Institute of Canada: What is radionics?
Article from schiz life: Schizophrenia and Scrupulosity

For help:

Spiritual Crisis Network

Related Posts:

Mental Health Issue v Spiritual Crisis

Bipolar Disorder as Spiritual Awakening

Depression & Grounding

Mental Health Issue v Spiritual Crisis

“My ego told me I was going mad, but my soul knew I was the most sane I had ever been.”

Guest Post by Katie Mottram

Katie has worked within the mental health field for almost 15 years. Here she shares her experiences of mental health in terms of spiritual crisis. 

I have always known intuitively, since being a young child, that there was something more about life I wasn’t being told, that society was missing something in some way. I battled to understand and over time this resulted in years of feeling inadequate, depression and a heavy sense that I had to pretend to be someone to fit the material, secular, mechanical world that we see today. Discovering my ‘self’ as a spiritual being has felt like coming home, I can now live true to who I know I am deep down inside, and the effect of that has been better than any antidepressants known to man!

It is hard to believe that having worked in the mental health field for over 14 years I had never heard the term spiritual emergency until it happened to me! My mum had struggled with her own mental wellbeing since I was born, being diagnosed as having schizo- affective disorder 20 years ago when she tried to say she believed she was a ‘healer’. Her beliefs completely disregarded she was sectioned, medicated and given brutal electro convulsive treatment, rendering her an almost robotic existence. My mum was told she was mad, and so that is what she was forced to believe.

In 2008 I experienced my own mental crisis. Various traumatic life events took their toll on my already fragile sense of self and I made a serious attempt to take my life. Thankfully I was not living in the UK at the time and therefore avoided falling foul of the mental health system and being lumbered for life with a derogatory label. Nothing made sense and life seemed futile.

Then early in 2012, after summoning a new strength to make some sense of it all, my whole belief framework about myself and the world changed in an instant. Various synchronicities had led me to read ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, and before I’d even finished reading the book I instinctively knew all of the contents! I had gone into a meditation asking the Universe what on earth mental illness was all about, and, as I cleared my mind of all thought, to my amazement my question was answered so clearly and without any doubt that everything I had questioned about my existence in the world made complete sense. My level of consciousness expanded and I was able to channel a theory about spiritual emergency – a concept I had known nothing about only an hour earlier! I came out of the meditation and existed for the next three days in a heightened sense of awareness, I knew I was completely connected to the world and every being in it, and that all there is, all that matters, is love.

For the last year I have been researching the phenomenon of spiritual emergency and it is thanks to the information I discovered and the contacts I have made that have prevented me from going into crisis. I can now see how easy it is for people to believe that they are the only one to experience psychic phenomena as that is what I believed at first too. It was only due to me working within the mental health system I knew not to talk openly about my euphoria, as all that it would have achieved at the time would have to have got me sectioned! It is vital that this experience is normalised to help other people who are ‘awakening’ to understand what on earth is happening.

I now know how to manage my new found ESP and stay grounded, whilst acknowledging the wonderful miracles that occur around me every day. I feel so blessed to have gone through the traumas I experienced now as I know this is what led to my expansion of consciousness and wonderful insights I have into how easy it is to create our desired reality.

Being brought up in the materialistic, technological society that we are currently in it is easy to forget that we are spiritual beings at our core. Some people shy away from the word ‘spiritual’; it’s just language, most people have used the term ‘soul’ at some point in their lives, it is the same thing and has no religious connotation. We are taught to strive externally for wealth and happiness, but without searching within this search is futile, you’ll never find externally what has been inside all along. The first vital step to achieving is to believe.

I am now very proud to be part of the UK Spiritual Crisis Network which strives to normalize and validate unusual and sometimes extreme human experiences. We believe that there is no distinction between mental illness and spiritual emergency, the only distinction is in whether the experience renders the experiencer unable to function in their everyday life.

I know that purely by validating someone’s beliefs about their experience whilst helping them to remain grounded in our ‘shared reality’ it can help avoid unnecessary diagnosis or event assist someone back into recovery. I know this to be true because due to me speaking openly about my own experiences, validating hers and helping her to ground herself back in the here and now, my wonderful mum is no longer a robot – her life and soul have returned! And that is the only evidence I need to know this is the work in which I want to put my heart and soul!

For more information on the Spiritual Crisis Network; http://www.spiritualcrisisnetwork.org.uk

Bipolar Psychosis? Indecision and Confusion.

(Photo Credit: Nick. K available under a Creative Commons Licence).

I’m riddled with confusion and indecisiveness today. I stand, statue still, in the middle of the city streets not knowing what I’m doing or where I’m going. People bustle their way from shop to shop, laiden with bags of all shapes and sizes. They are so purposeful in their pursuit of goods- there is a kind of primitive hunting drive about it. But it is all so quick and fast around me. I can’t decide where to go so I just freeze. If in doubt I head to the coffee shop- my safe haven.

I’m confused as to whether or not I’m hearing voices. Are the words in my head from my own thoughts or another source? They don’t feel like my own at all. My own thoughts are muddled and repeat over and over “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I’m doing“. Other thoughts feel as if they come from some mischievous ghost following me around. I got irritable listening to a loud woman in the cafe today, surrounded by 10 or so chronies hanging off her every word, as the whole cafe learnt of her daughter’s wedding plans. “Tell her she’s an obnoxious attention-seeker” whispers the ghost in my ear. “Shout it out, she’ll be so shocked, it’ll be hilarious“. Woah!! Hold on a second- that wasn’t me was it?! That’s so unlike me. All these mingling thoughts and voices are confusing. Is this a kind of psychosis?

Every morning is the same at the moment. Even though I want to stay at home, I feel compulsively pressured to go to the city- to the library or coffee shop to read and write. Getting out of the house is generally a good thing, helping me to feel more alive and distracting me from destructive thoughts. But this compulsion feels obsessive and pressured now and I don’t seem to be able to stop.  I am treading the well worn path, maybe it’s just because it’s the simplest thing to do- I don’t have to think too much. I even feel I have to get the same bus at the same time and go to places in the same order as usual. Maybe it’s because when I stay at home alone bad things have happened in the past. I just don’t think I can bare to be on my own at the moment- unusual for an introvert like me. It’s not necessarily conversation I want, just the security of other people being around, a little interaction with shop staff and anonymous company.

I feel I must keep moving, keep doing- I don’t want to see the mess inside my head- the images of arm slicing, blood dripping. The urge to act on this can get stronger at home alone. As disturbing as this may sound it’s fairly normal for me during a depressive episode. In the past I have acted, but I’m lucky I’ve never become addicted like some. Just because the urge is there though, the picture clear in my mind, doesn’t mean I have to act on it. But it is still scary and I distract myself with food- cakes and biscuits. I don’t want to sit with these thoughts. I feel like a scared child, locked in a room on their own, with an intense fear of ghosts and monsters. I really do! I sometimes really do feel like there are ghosts living with me.

My thoughts are not so slow anymore. They are more irritable, urgent and insistent. I feel I’m being bossed about by this unnamed ghost. The slow movement only seems to occur now when I’ve been active for a while, or when I’m becoming anxious and panicky with indecision and confusion.

I do think I’m better than I was 10 days ago when I could barely walk. I’m glad I can get out and about- I just wish it felt a bit more on my own terms. The light box is great. I actually enjoy sitting by it- it gets nice and warm and I feel a bit of sunshine light up inside me. Would highly recommend.