More Than a Diagnosis……

Having worked in mental health I find this to be very true.

“All of the diagnoses that you deal with – depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar illness, post traumatic stress disorder, even psychosis, are significantly rooted in trauma. They are manifestations of trauma. Therefore the diagnoses don’t explain anything. The problem in the medical world is that we diagnose somebody and we think that is the explanation. He’s behaving that way because he is psychotic. She’s behaving that way because she has ADHD. Nobody has ADHD, nobody has psychosis – these are processes within the individual. It’s not a thing that you have. This is a process that expresses your life experience. It has meaning in every single case.”

Gabor Mate

On The Couch………….

Having worked in the mental health field for many years I have had numerous conversations with various psychiatrists and psychologists around being empathic. Also about the role of numinous spiritual experiences in individuals.
The article that follows albeit a theoretical scenario is a fair precis of the my interactions with professionals both at work and in my own therapy, although a little ‘tongue in cheek’ at times.
I will refer to myself as Mr P and the health care professional as Mr T.

Mr T: “Hello Mr P, how can I help you today”?
Mr P: “Well it’s kind of complicated. It’s probably best if I give you a brief overview of my experiences to date.
Firstly I find myself to have strong empathic tendencies. I belong to a few empath groups in order to share our experiences as they seem to be somewhat unique amongst the general population.
Mr T: “Could you elaborate please”?
Mr P: “Of course. You see I have a high degree of energetic sensitivity. This means that I can pick up on subtle energy frequencies from people, places, objects etc. I may for instance feel another person’s emotional state, pick up on spiritual entities or sense inter dimensional activity. Previously before I knew that I was empathic I had great difficulty managing my emotional and mental health as I would unknowingly get ‘infected’ by someone’s emotional state and presume it was my own”.
Mr T: “Mmm, I see. Is there any other, how shall we say, special powers you may have”?
Mr P: “Just to clarify, I don’t particularly feel that I have special powers. I consider myself as just a little’different’.
I have had and still have strong spiritually numinous experiences.
These have taken the form of Kundalini / Advaitic or non duality episodes”.
Mr T: “Are they not aligned to the Hindu faith? But you are an English Caucasian”?
Mr P: ” Indeed they are. However they seem to be part of my spiritual growth. I am very much have the mindset of Carl Jung when it comes to individuation and personal spirituality”.
Mr T: “Are you aware that in psychiatry a belief that a person has which is not aligned to their culture or sub culture could be seen as delusional”?
Mr P: “Personally I believe that understanding to be over inclusive”.
Mr T: ” Mmm. So then, in what way do you find these personal traits problematic, if at all”?
Mr P: “Most of the larger problems came before I understood I was empathic as I stated previously.
I suppose the main problem, if you can call it that, is the feelings of isolation at times. It’s difficult on occasions to live in a society on a day to day basis that you don’t fit into.
For instance, I am frequently overawed by the beauty of Nature just by being in my garden. The verdant green of the lawn, shimmers of sunlight flickering through the trees casting animated shadows across borders. The small patch of daisies all leaning towards the sunlight seemingly in reference. It’s the frequent inability to share these sensual experiences leads the more human side of me to feel sad.
I suppose in essence there are two aspects to my personality. The more aware ,realistic spiritual side of myself and my more egoic part which wants to indulge the more human side of me”.
Mr T: ” Do you think that there may be two personalities within you?”
Mr P: “No, not at all. Just different aspects of my assumed whole”.
Mr T: ” Well Mr P, I feel that although you don’t seem to meet the exact criteria for most treatments,I can offer you a little something to help reduce these experiences then you may feel more ‘normal’. Some medication perhaps?”
Mr P: “Actually, no thank you. Our chat has actually helped somewhat in that I now appreciate even more than ever that I am extremely lucky to have such a sensitivity. I would rather live with it’s drawbacks than for anything to change.
Oh, by the way. Just a thought but do you think that you could prescribe medication for the many others who do not seem to appreciate the divinity of living a life on this Earth. I think that may help me more in the long term?”

Spiritual Individuation ( a precis )

Colours blind the eye.

Sounds deafen the ear.

Flavours numb the taste.

Thoughts weaken the mind.

Desires wither the heart.
The Master observes the world

but trusts his inner vision.

He allows things to come and go.

His heart is open as the sky.
From the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
I know many of us with a predisposition towards the spiritual life can suffer tremendously as we precariously tread our path. There is in us all, our own rendition of spirituality. A unique and innate seed that seeks expression and fulfilment through our experience of life itself. My own was through the discovery that I am empathic.
I am no expert on anyone’s life as we all are different. Each of us growing from a distinct DNA in our own individual habitat of physical, psychological and emotional environments.

However, in the hope of helping others, I wish to communicate briefly my experience thus far.
After many years of reflection, meditation and various numinous experiences in my life I found that actually I knew my truth all along, I just needed to discover it. My truth was ingrained in my heart from the very beginning. I suspect it took awhile to discover as my truth was not of my culture and thus many of my spiritual experiences were alien to me as they were to my peers.

This is where the idea of spiritual individuation came from.
The term ” individuation ” was coined by Carl Jung, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. His theory was that in order for humans to become the best version themselves we had to allow ourselves to be authentic. That is to seek to express in ourselves and in life our intuitive true nature. The problem with this is it can often be at odds with our culture, peers the society we are born into.
Although I never used to think that being empathic was a gift ( due to its initially confusing and draining properties ) , I now know that it was indeed. One which, once understood, has been pivotal in helping me find myself and for me, my true relationship with the world around me.
So to all you fellow strugglers, whatsoever pain or challenges you may face, rest assured that you are more than you perceive yourself to be. You are more than your current problems, more than your fears for the future and more than the hurts of your past. If you can carry on pursuing your heartfelt path, in my experience, you will find peace and equanimity.

Spiritual Crisis……? 

The following is, as ever only my take on a certain aspect of life. However I have seen many posts and have received messages to my blog as to what this subject. It has been a concern of mine for a long time that generally Western Society does not effectively support people who undergo spiritual experiences.
I will not try and differentiate between mental illness and spiritual growth as that is beyond my remit and extremely complex. However it is worth bearing in mind that profound spiritual experiences have been a regular occurrence for people since time in creation. 
One can only really speak of our individual experience with any true objectivity. Of course most of us agree on similar themes as our human senses incorporate our world in a non dissimilar manner.

However it seems to me that certain people ( be them described as empathic, HSP or simply sensitive) are able to sense certain energies outside of the perceived norm.
It seems it can take many guises e.g being able to feel other peoples or places energy, being able to communicate with spirits and the ability to heal energetically to name a but a few. 

Along with these differing perceptions often comes a strong sense of spirituality. An awareness that there is more to the world than meets the eye.
This ‘ sensitivity ‘ leads can often lead some of us to experience a spiritual emergence or transformation. 

This may be completely by accident,  as a result of spiritual practice or by taking mind altering substances. 
For instance, a spiritual emergency is described as a crisis often resulting in intense emotions, unusual thoughts and behaviors, and perceptual changes. This crisis often involves a spiritual component—such as experiences of death and rebirth, unity with the universe, and encounters with powerful beings. Such crises bring about the potential for profound psychological and spiritual change (Grof & Grof, 1989), but often appear to be similar to psychotic disorders.
As I myself found that if this occurs in one’s life, there is often no-one to turn to for support or guidance. Certainly trying to discuss it with friends and family was met with dismissal or avoidance ( understandably). 

After some research I found that my experiences were not at all uncommon, however were still treated as mumbo jumbo by the medical field at large. 
Fortunately there has been some progress in recent years in that there has become a growing awareness amongst some professionals. It is still a little sporadic but seems to be slowly gaining ground. 
Therefore to conclude, if anyone you know seems to be experiencing something similar, at least offer a listening ear and support as it can be a very scary place to be. 

There is a charity called Spiritual Crisis Network who can offer advice / support if necessary. 
Sorry for the more ‘ informative ‘ type post but I feel some may find it useful.



Mental Health……?

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”
― C.G. Jung

Having worked with people who are seen to have ‘ mental health ‘ difficulties over many years there are many different things one comes to realise about people. Especially as I seem to have some degree of empathic traits I am often able to see / feel the whole story of individual clients. A brief summary follows ( please bear in mind, this reflects on my experience and is not meant as a truism for everyone and every situation).

– ‘ mental illness and subsequent diagnoses often have the unfortunate effect of putting peoples experiences into boxes. This itself can be disempowering to individuals who are already feeling disempowered. When a person presents with seemingly a mental health problem their reasons for it are usually multifactorial and unique to that individual ( unless caused by physical trauma or physiological pathology). We all have strengths and weaknesses and each one of us manifests our psychological distress in our own way. Some are predisposed to a lowering of mood, some towards addictive behaviour, some towards expressing high anxiety. The ability to cope and / or resolve these symptoms needs a very holistic and long term approach to these problems.

– Frustratingly I feel many mental health problems stem from Western societies monoculture and Cartesian mindset. Not all by any means but many clients with seemingly mental health issues have had problems or issues during their formative years. I often see clearly the child in the adult still struggling to adjust to adult life and its related expectations whilst still trying to deal with deficits in their repertoire of skills due to problems early on in their life.

– Having spent much time with these people it is clear many are ‘ sensitive ‘ and empathic individuals. This has lead some to be quite vulnerable yet many triumph and either overcome or come to terms with their problems. They often become wounded healers to others.

It is interesting to note that people with similar mental health difficulties in developing countries have a better prognosis ( future outcome) according to some research than those in western society. One theory is that it may be because the problems and difficulties they may manifest are recognised by the extended family and they are supported in a way that helps them to live their life still within the family unit.
I think as a society we need to concentrate on giving our children as supportive and loving environment as possible. If mental health problems occur then it is vitally important that these are identified and resolved early on in the child’s life. Unfortunately the importance of this does not seem to be taken on by many of our politicians.