How to Handle Lightworker Burnout

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This post is for those who resonate with lightworker traits. I briefly mentioned something called “lightworker burnout” in the post It’s a Challenging Time for Lightworkers. I imagine most people understand what career burnout looks like, and people who call themselves lightworkers can experience something sort of similar where they become so frustrated and exhausted by the world’s suffering that they eventually lose their passion and their ability to function well within society. Not everyone will experience this, but I wanted to discuss it because I’ve experienced these burnout symptoms in the past couple years and imagine that others out there are struggling with it right now, too.

I think the most common reasons why lightworker burnout occurs is because people either become overly concerned about the suffering of humanity and become unsure of where to direct their focus, or they try to help too many people at once because they feel a sense of urgency to help. Whether it’s career burnout or lightworker burnout, if you try to take on too much at once, you’ll surely burn-out because you’re not here to help everyone or to save the entire planet.

When I was reading about lightworker burnout, I came across some helpful advice written by Doreen Virtue. This is what she had to say:

“Lightworker Burnout” occurs in sensitive, caring people who feel overwhelmed by all the world issues that need healing attention. You don’t need to heal everyone and everything, however. Even the angels specialize in a specific focus. So, choose one or two issues that call to your soul. Then pray for the courage and guidance to make a positive difference in those areas.

Due to my desire to help others and to seek the truth about what’s going on in the world, I’ve had a tendency to carry the world’s weight on my shoulders. In recent years, I have uncovered a lot of dark, despicable stuff carried out by those in power that is being kept hidden from the public. After I overcame the shock of learning these things, I felt a combination of anger and sadness. It seems pretty normal to respond that way, but it becomes unhelpful if we get stuck in those emotions for too long.

I think it’s important to be aware of a few things: 1) the truth about what’s happening on this planet isn’t always pretty, 2) corruption exists at various levels and within all major systems and institutions, and 3) the news perpetuates feelings of fear and helplessness. If you tune into a news station, there is usually a barrage of negative stories being told while solutions are rarely discussed. We hear one bad story after another, and if we’re not careful, we’ll become paralyzed by the fear that something bad is always lurking around the corner. This can lead us into a victim mentality where we are looking for someone else to save us, which is a surefire way to lose our freedom and power.

To stay empowered, it is helpful to find a way of staying informed enough  to make smart decisions without falling victim to the fear-mongering tactics. Once you become aware of the motives and manipulations that the media carries out to keep us in a perpetual state of fear and inaction, you’ll probably want to watch less and less tv and seek other methods of staying informed. I prefer alternative news sources on the internet, but you have to be really careful with those, too, because any journalist or truth seeker has the potential to develop a doom-and-gloom attitude that can begin to infect your mind and spirit if you don’t stay mindful of how it is affecting you. Also, I wish it wasn’t a reality we had to face, but some of the most popular “truth seekers” are probably shills who have been paid to spread lies and perpetuate more fear.

If you’re a truth seeker like me, you might struggle to maintain your sanity while staying informed. That’s why it is so important to remain aware of your mental and emotional state. If you find that you keep getting pulled down the more that you learn about what’s going wrong, perhaps it’s time to switch your focus to the positive things that are happening right now and find a way to become part of the solution. I would never encourage people to ignore the problems we’re facing because complete avoidance doesn’t solve anything, but worrying about problems isn’t exactly productive, either.

Although I agree that many news sources focus too much on negativity and fear, one of the facts we ought to learn as adults is that we all have a choice in how emotionally invested we become in the stories we hear. We are each responsible for our level of awareness of what is happening, for the decisions we make, and for our mental and emotional state. Once you’ve learned how to discover the truth without becoming engulfed by fear, worry, or helplessness, you have completely empowered yourself. One way to do this is to focus on solutions to problems. If you hear about a problem and can’t think of anything you can do to improve the situation, move on instead of frantically running around in circles.

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I think if we follow Doreen’s advice of narrowing our focus to one or two issues to help solve, it is possible to become change agents. Another point I would like to add is that instead of fighting against issues and ranting about how we need to stop this and stop that, it might be more beneficial to put our efforts into creating the new methods and systems that we want to see. In other words, instead of resisting the old, work toward creating something new. Help people see that there are other alternatives by building them yourself.

I’ll sum all this up with a few more tips on how to serve others without burning yourself out in the process:

  1. Work on healing yourself before you try healing others. We can’t be of much service to anyone if we’re in poor shape ourselves. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect and free from all issues, but you need to maintain good health if you want to be effective and efficient at helping others.
  2. Strive for balance in all aspects of your life. Not only is it important to maintain the balance between staying informed and staying empowered, we also want to make sure we don’t spend so much time focused on a particular issue or cause that we ignore our own health and happiness.
  3.  Know if your passion and purpose derive from your ego or your heart. If you feel motivated to help others, ask yourself why you want to do so. Sometimes we say we want to help others, but when we’re truly honest with ourselves about why, we uncover other motives, such as a desire to live up to others’ expectations or to feel better about ourselves. It’s not totally horrible if your passion derives partly from your ego, but you’ll do yourself a big favor by listening to what your heart  is telling you to do.
  4. Know what raises your vibration and what lowers it. When we spend too much time around negative, toxic energies, we may end up suffering if we don’t know how to handle it. This is especially important to remember when it comes to following news stories, whether it’s online or on television. Pay attention to how you feel about the information you’re receiving and the person who is delivering the message. If it doesn’t inspire hope, you’re wasting your time and energy. To work toward building solutions, we want to stay focused on what keeps us going in a positive direction instead of getting trapped by fear. To learn more about vibrations and frequencies, here is a video on how to discern a frequency and one on how frequencies affect your life.
  5. Have patience and compassion towards those with lower levels of awareness. If you’re trying to help people who are not as knowledgeable or conscious as you are, it’s helpful not to rush the process or to get impatient with people if they are not ready to change or face certain truths. For example, if you’re trying to teach someone how to eat healthier, help them find ways to take baby steps instead of pressuring them to adopt the habits of a health nut. You’ll drive yourself crazy if expect everyone to make dramatic changes across the span of a day, a week, or even a month. Do you typically make dramatic changes overnight? Remind yourself that each person grows and changes at their own pace.
  6. Be a guide instead of a “people fixer.” Most of us who have a strong desire to help probably have a deep desire to fix people, but that’s probably not the role we should play. No one is perfect, so it’s futile trying to fix anyone. A healthier approach might be to view ourselves as guides and teachers who are sharing our skills, talents, and knowledge to help others more easily maneuver their way down their path. We should avoid rescuing people from their problems so they can learn lessons and grow on their own. Instead of being rescuers, we can be like lighthouses guiding and assisting others through the darkness.
  7. A small victory can be a huge victory. It may not be possible to help every person we encounter, but all the small successes can lead to something bigger. Once you’ve helped someone, they might be motivated to help others or begin spreading the information they’ve learned to their family and friends, which could benefit someone they know. Keep in mind that every time you try to teach others what you have learned, you might be planting the seed that is going to help someone grow.
  8. Accept that you won’t always succeed. Following your heart and your dreams sometimes requires you to step outside the box. When you find the courage to step outside the box and do something different from what everyone else is doing, there is always the risk of failure. Some people might not understand what you’re doing. Others might intentionally target you and try to pull you down because your efforts are seen as a threat to the old, failing systems that they are desperately trying to maintain for as long as they can. Don’t let the fear of failure or a few stumbling blocks stop you from fulfilling your mission. When your intuition tells you you’re on the right path, keep going. You will learn and grow by taking these risks.

If you’ve been dealing with burnout lately, I hope some of the suggestions above will help you and inspire you to keep shining your light. For those who have experienced burnout, what do you think is the best way to cope with it?

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Liebster Award

liesbster2Happy September, everyone! I’m flattered that I recently received a nomination for an award on my new blog. I was nominated by Brandi at Destination Enlightenment for the Liebster Award. She blogged about it here. Brandi has an excellent blog focused on the topics of spirituality and personal growth, so definitely check out some of her posts soon. Thanks again for nominating me, Brandi!

Here are the rules:

  1. Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
    Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
  2. Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  3. Ensure all of these bloggers have less than 200 followers.
  4. Answer the eleven questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make eleven questions of your own for your nominees or you may use the same questions.
  5. Lastly, COPY these rules in your post.

The bloggers whom I nominate and encourage you all to follow, if you aren’t already, are:
Spiritual Awakening
Empath Blues
The Invitation
Elemental Fraction

The 11 questions are:

1.If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?

It took me a little while to think of someone, but then I realized how awesome it would be to have a conversation with David Icke, one of the biggest conspiracy theorists. Some people say he’s crazy and delusional. Others accuse him of being a fraud or say he’s in the illuminati. Whatever the truth is, the man has shared a lot of fascinating ideas about consciousness and human evolution that I’ve enjoyed.

2. What is the simplest thing that makes you smile?

I love those moments when my cats show love and affection by cuddling together or grooming each other. It is the sweetest thing.

3. What is your favorite season and why?

I love both spring and summer because of the bright sunshine and warm weather. Spring might be slightly more exciting to me because the temps are just starting to rise, and I know I will have plenty more months ahead of warm, sunny weather to enjoy outdoors.

4. What is your all time favorite food?

I love a good seafood and pasta dish. Or to go with something even simpler than that, I’ve always loved strawberries.

5. What song gets you pumped?

I’m struggling with this one since a lot of the music I listen to is relaxing and dreamy or atmospheric/ambient. When I want to get up and moving, though, I like to put on some classic disco hits. “Born to Be Alive” by Patrick Hernandez is one that never fails.

6. What was the most inspiring book you have ever read?

One book that led to a huge breakthrough for me was the popular self-help book “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin Norwood. I was only 23 at the time and didn’t have much relationship experience, but that book helped me realize the mistakes and traps I had fallen into already that were preventing me from finding a decent partner. After reading it, my attitude about men completely shifted and I was inspired to love myself before anyone else. Less than six months later, I ended up meeting my current boyfriend whom I consider one of my soulmates.

7. Any other interests other than writing/blogging?

Being outdoors and relaxing in nature, reading, researching natural/alternative health topics, watching documentaries, shopping at thrifts stores and flea markets, having in-depth conversations with like-minded souls about spirituality, conspiracy theories, and life in general

8. Do you believe in love at first sight?

I don’t know…maybe. I definitely believe in the idea of soulmates. I think it’s possible to meet someone and instantly feel a level of comfort and familiarity toward them that is different from pure physical attraction to someone. Based on my own experience, I know it’s possible to experience a powerful, unexplainable connection to someone during the first or second date that is a strong indication that this person will play a profound role in your life.

9. Are you multi lingual or do you know parts of another language?

I remember a teeny bit of Spanish that I learned throughout elementary school and college.

10. Who do you look up to or who inspires you?

I’m inspired by my mother’s ability to maintain a kind, loving heart after experiencing many disappointments and traumas in her life. Some people quite easily become bitter and self-centered after enduring hardships, but my mother still remains a loving woman who wants to help others when it’s possible. I think it takes a lot more strength to remain sensitive and kind toward others when you’re in pain yourself than it does to turn cold and take out your suffering on others.

11. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

The process of organizing my thoughts and putting them up on the screen often helps me better understand myself or a situation I am currently facing. By writing for others, I usually help myself. I also really enjoy receiving comments from bloggers and readers who can relate to things I share because it helps me feel less alone. Sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling like a lot of people don’t understand what I am going through, so here’s a thank you to all the bloggers and readers who’ve helped me feel supported and understood.

Thank you everyone for reading. For anyone who decides to participate, I look forward to reading your answers.

Are animals attracted to a certain vibration?

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I love sunshine and warm weather, so as soon as the temps started rising in March of this year, I have wanted to spend a lot of my time walking and relaxing in nature. I’ve been living in a coastal city for a few years and always enjoyed visiting the beach, but lately I seek places that are more secluded and less likely to attract tourists. In the past year, it’s been really hard and overwhelming sometimes to be among a crowd of people, so I usually try to go to the local parks at times when few people are likely to be there.

A couple weeks ago, I discovered a park a few minutes away from my place and have already visited it a few times since then. During my second visit there, I found a wonderful secluded spot by the lake where the trees and brush have been cleared enough for me to spread out a blanket to sit and read a book or take in the scenery. When I found this spot, I saw a group of four large yellow and black butterflies on the ground right near the water’s edge. Out of curiosity, I approached them, and all but one butterfly flew away. This one that stayed allowed me to touch it several times.

On Wednesday, I went back to the same spot by the water, and this time a smaller dark brown butterfly with a small white and orange spot kept landing on my shoes. I was able to touch this one, too. Every time someone would walk past us, the butterfly would fly away and return back to my shoes once the person was out of sight. During the last hour that I sat there, the butterfly spent more than half the time either on my shoes or on the bag that was next to me on the blanket.

They’re not the best quality, but here are a couple of the photos I managed to capture:
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A few months ago, back in April, I had a dream in which a guy who owned a spiritual goods store announced to all the customers that I was the queen of butterflies. It was significant to me because butterflies are associated with metamorphosis and the dramatic transformations we go through during a spiritual awakening. I was having a difficult time yesterday with feeling so isolated and disconnected from almost everyone around me, so maybe my beautiful little friend came over to sit with me to remind me that I will continue growing and evolving. These beautiful creatures successfully made their transition from the old into the new just as we are capable of doing the same if we embrace the changes.

It made me start wondering why some people appear to attract animals more than others. Animals are sensitive to energy, and it doesn’t take long to realize that when you put hyper children around a cat. At the cat adoption center where I volunteer, most of the cats will gather around me to receive affection. As soon as a family with small children enters, the cats often scatter to various corners, while some hide underneath the cages. Sometimes the children will ask me why the cats seem so scared. I guess most children don’t quite understand how important it is to lower your energy around certain animals since many of them gravitate toward someone with a calm, gentle presence. As crazy as it seems now, I remember catching wild kittens and bringing them into the house when I was very young. I think I’ve always had an ability to get along well with cats.

My boyfriend and I have noticed that when we go to a park, animals, such as geese and ducks, tend to stay near us while they avoid everyone else. We stopped by a local gift shop for the first time not too long ago and discovered that the owner keeps two cats there. An employee warned us that the black female cat isn’t friendly toward people, but she turned into a purring love machine once I petted her, and she continued to follow us out the store as we were leaving. My boyfriend and I are both reserved and introverted, so maybe animals feel more comfortable and trusting around people who give off a more mellow vibe. Maybe they can also sense pureness and kindness in someone’s heart that makes them feel more loving and social toward certain humans. Whatever the explanation is, I am grateful for moments when I am able to connect with one of Mother Earth’s creatures.

The other topic I briefly wanted to mention is spirit animals. I have noticed how certain animals will repeatedly appear in my life for several days, weeks, or months at a time. I saw hawks frequently all last year. I saw lizards frequently a month ago. In these past few weeks, it’s been butterflies. I see dragonflies from time to time, as well. When we repeatedly see a certain type of animal that seems drawn to us, I believe it is worth looking into a possible message that the universe is trying to communicate to us through nature. Just like synchronicities, these subtle messages from the universe are frequently being sent to us, but you must remain aware to notice them.

Has anyone else noticed how animals seem to be more attracted to certain people? What do you think explains it? Have you noticed any specific animals that frequently appear in your life?

Healing Bipolar Disorder Naturally is Possible

*Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment.*

healOne of the biggest issues with mental illness is our lack of understanding of what causes it. The majority of people look to psychiatrists and psychologists for answers, but even these “experts” cannot provide a definitive answer regarding the origin of mental illness. They can spout the same information that I read in textbooks as a psychology student that told us how genetics and environmental factors play a role, but those explanations fall short when it comes to understanding what mental illness really is and how we can overcome it.

Unfortunately, most mental health professionals and their clients are brainwashed into believing that there is no cure for certain mental disorders. Then making the situation seem even more hopeless, clients/patients are told they will probably need to take medication for the rest of their life. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 20, I heard that same story about how important it is to be compliant and take lithium for possibly the rest of my life to avoid another episode. I was a good little patient and remained compliant for about five or six years, but as I drastically transformed my diet and took my health into my own hands, I started becoming very turned off by the idea of putting something toxic into my body every day without knowing what kind of damage the medication might have been doing to my organs. Now, I am completely medication free without any bipolar symptoms.

Before I get too deep into anything, let me first mention that if you are currently taking medication for bipolar disorder or are considering it, I cannot tell you what is the best course of action for you. We individually have different reactions to medications and treatments, so what works for me may not be suitable for you. If you feel that taking medication is the best option for you right now, go for it. I remember how scary and painful it was to suffer from severe mood swings, and I believe medication truly helped me for a while. Some people who’ve never suffered from mental illness get on a high horse and almost seem to imply that we are creating our suffering and just need to try a little harder to feel better. If I somehow come across that way at any point, please remember that I’ve had my own struggles with depression and mood instability and am very sensitive to the struggles that others experience. Also, I feel it’s important to mention that if you decide you don’t want to take medication anymore, don’t abruptly stop. You’ll want to come up with a tapering schedule with your doctor so you can wean yourself off the medication slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. I was very patient with tapering off of lithium over the course of several months and did not experience any withdrawal effects.

Now, getting into one of my preferred theories about the causation of bipolar disorder, it’s helpful to understand the basic idea of what bipolar disorder is. Quite simply, bipolar disorder is the label we apply to someone who experiences drastic mood fluctuations, usually from “mania” and euphoria to debilitating depression and suicidal ideation. These mood swings are much more than “I felt great yesterday, but now I’m a little moody.” Nah, it’s way more severe and extreme than that. It’s not something that should be downplayed. It can be absolutely horrible for someone who has recurring manic-depressive episodes that continuously strike without warning. I experienced those ups and downs for three years and started feeling really helpless and uncertain about how I would ever live a normal life. If you’re dealing with this same issue, being on medication for a little while might be what you need to gain some stability. Once stability is achieved, you can start looking into other solutions because, let me tell you, the long-term consequences of taking medication for several years can be downright scary.

So, if bipolar disorder is basically characterized by mood instability, it seems reasonable to me to suspect that something about our life has become very imbalanced. I don’t mean just a chemical imbalance in the brain because chemical imbalances usually reveal a deeper, underlying issue that needs to be addressed. If you consider the basic tenet behind functional medicine, the food, medicines, substances, and toxins that enter our body affect all organs and systems, not just our stomach. To have a better understanding of mental illness, remember that your stomach and brain are intimately connected. Whatever you feed your stomach, you’re also feeding it to your brain. If you don’t think there’s any connection between the two, read this. When a substance enters our body, we can’t force it to go to only one part of our body. The human body is a large organized system, and within that large system, you’ll find many more organized, complex systems that affect one another. Systems, no matter how large or small, continuously interact with one another to keep the whole system functioning properly.

When something goes amiss with your health, particularly your mental health, consider how the affected system may be impaired by an entirely different system, such as your gastrointestinal or endocrine system. This really isn’t a revolutionary idea, but mainstream doctors fail to apply this knowledge when they formulate a treatment plan for their patients. They target the affected system only instead of looking at the big picture, which means most patients never discover the core problem that is contributing to their illness. Without discovering the deeper issue, the problem never goes away. That’s why doctors often say “there is no cure.” Dig a little deeper, and you’ll often find one.

From a nutritional perspective, there are several vitamins and supplements that can be very beneficial for treating bipolar disorder. One of the common supplements is omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed. Lesser known supplements that have worked for some people include ashwagandha and borage oil. Because I think nutrition has played a significant role in my recovery from mood and digestive issues, I will soon make a detailed post about my diet and daily supplement routine. Just so you know, it’s not as simple as avoiding caffeine and taking a multivitamin. Sure, avoiding caffeine helps, but I once made the mistake of assuming I could avoid a few unhealthy things and still be in good health. As the years went by, I eventually exposed myself to some disturbing truths about the food industry and totally transformed my views on what is and isn’t healthy. My diet is radically different now compared to what I ate when I was 20.

Besides nutritional influences, there are some other interesting theories I’ve come across that attempt to explain the cause of bipolar disorder. Some people view bipolar disorder as a spiritual emergency. Some people believe that bipolar disorder is a misdiagnosis for hormonal imbalances, such as adrenal fatigue or thyroid disorders. I can’t find the link now, but I remember reading about the idea that people who withdraw too much from others can have an aura that does not project much from the body, which results in manic behaviors. I even came across a really interesting theory that says that bipolar disorder is caused by a reversal of the chakra system. Another fascinating theory is that mental illness signals the birth of a healer. You may not buy into any of those theories, but I think it’s worth considering each one since we still don’t have the answers yet on what causes bipolar disorder. I also think there’s a lot of value in taking a holistic approach, so maybe it’s more helpful to understand how a combination of one’s nutrition, social support, and spiritual views can impact his/her emotional state.

Even if you don’t agree with some of the ideas expressed here, please question the popular and frequently accepted views that bipolar disorder is incurable and that medication is required to cope with it. It is so disempowering to hold such a view that you lack the ability to heal yourself. I’m here to tell you there may be better, healthier, more effective options for you if you’re suffering. Healing is possible, but it can only happen if you take matters into your own hands and stop trusting medical professionals as the only source of truth and knowledge. Countless people have successfully managed bipolar disorder through natural, holistic treatments, and I believe the same option is available to many others. Based on my experience with recovery, I genuinely believe there is a much better way than our currently flawed mental health system that essentially slaps band-aids on problems with medication instead of investigating the underlying issue.

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Dream World Symbolism: A White Horse and a Bratty Child as My Ego

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Most of my dreams are such a random mess that I don’t attempt to interpret many of them, but a few weeks ago, I had one of those dreams where the symbols and underlying message seemed too significant to ignore. I believe the dream relates to my spiritual awakening experience, so read on if you’re interested to hear more.

Around June 18th, I had an unusual dream involving a white horse and a young girl. I’m not sure who the girl was, but she was a very bratty child. From what I remember, it seemed that she was attempting to sabotage the relationship between her mother and the man whom her mother was seeing. I observed this child, appalled by her behavior. Fast forwarding a bit into the dream, we were walking through a large, grassy field and saw that a white horse had been chopped into pieces, and the body parts were scattered everywhere. (Sorry if you weren’t quite prepared for that mental imagery!) I immediately turned to the child, with a disapproving look on my face. I suspected that she was the one who had killed the horse and that it was all part of her plan to sabotage things for her mother. The little girl denied it, and a small part of me wasn’t completely confident that she was responsible, but I told the mother and her child that I didn’t know who else would do such a thing. That was the end of the dream.

Before sharing my interpretation, I found it interesting that during the three days immediately following that dream, it seemed like horses showed up everywhere. The day after the dream, I read an online article about ego death, and the author mentioned that her ankle had been fractured while riding a horse. In that same article, she later made a comparison between ego death and breaking horses. During that weekend while visiting my boyfriend at his place, I saw horses three more times on television. On VH1, the music video for “Secret Garden” by Bruce Springsteen came on, and there was a white horse in it. Then in an episode of Roseanne, David was drawing a picture of a horse and explained to Dan that it was more than just a picture of a horse. He said it represented power, movement, and freedom. Additionally, I saw a commercial with a white horse on a beach. If you watch enough television, you’ve probably seen that same commercial. I think I’ve seen it on YouTube once or twice. But anyway, it seems like maybe the universe was trying to show me just how significant my dream was through the variety of images and references to horses.

Now, let’s get into dream symbols. I first looked up the meaning of a white horse in a dream, and these were some of the interpretations that seem more applicable to my situation: “some type of awareness that is spiritual in nature,” “a meeting with expanded awareness of yourself,” “spiritual enlightenment,” “elevating your mood or spiritual aspirations,” and “developing awareness of your instincts and intuition.” Then, I looked into the interpretation of a dead horse and came across these interpretations: “serious loss of energy or motivation which could lead to illness or depression” and “an old and dying set of habits and motivations or way of life.” So basically, a white horse is symbolic of expanding spiritual awareness, and a dead horse represents loss of vitality or some kind of change or transition from old habits to new ones.

Here’s my interpretation of the dream: I view the bratty child as my ego. It throws a tantrum, like a child, and attempts to prevent me from connecting to my true self. Like the little girl who killed the white horse, my ego has a tendency to be destructive and tries to hinder my spiritual expansion and development. I also think the symbolic meaning of the dead horse is totally applicable to my current situation. As a result of experiencing a spiritual awakening and ego loss, my motivation has been seriously lacking for the past month. I’ve really not had much motivation for over a year now, but it seems to have gotten even worse lately. I’ve also been feeling increasingly more uncomfortable with the idea of not knowing who I am anymore or where I am supposed to go from here. So yes, there is definitely a transition here from the old into the new, but that transition is far from complete. Perhaps the scattered body parts of the horse could be a reflection of just how much my old identify has been broken apart, and now I will have to slowly put myself back together in some new arrangement.

Thank you for reading. If you have a slightly different interpretation or some insight to share about my dream, I would love to hear your ideas.

Is bipolar disorder a precursor to a spiritual awakening?

sufferingThe idea that bipolar disorder is somehow linked to spirituality is an extremely fascinating topic to me. If you or someone you know has experienced manic-depressive episodes, you may be aware of certain spiritual themes that frequently occur with this disorder. It is not uncommon for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder to report times when they felt pure bliss or a divine connection to everything. Some say they received messages from God or that they were God. Some also say they received visions and had a sudden influx of creative ideas. There is often a feeling of power and confidence that accompanies a manic episode. To someone with an average/limited level of consciousness, these experiences are indications that someone has “gone crazy” or has “lost touch with reality.” Someone with expanded consciousness, though, recognizes that these experiences have a spiritual undertone, which may indicate that bipolar disorder is so much more significant than just mental illness.

I’m glad to find that other people are noticing the potential link between bipolar disorder and spirituality and that they are discussing their experiences with this “illness” because it may help us discover a better explanation for why it is happening to more and more people. Of all mental disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are typically considered the most severe, yet traditional medicine has failed to explain exactly what causes these disorders and why some people suffer while many others don’t. Of all mental disorders, I think bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have the most potential to lead to spiritual experiences, so I’m not sure that I agree with the Western approach of medicating and suppressing whatever emotions, thoughts, and sensations that these patients are experiencing. Suppressing what these people are feeling might be a suppression of the spiritual path that these people were meant to follow.

In some cultures, mental illness is not seen as a problem or defect in the person who is experiencing unusual symptoms. In this article What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital, Dr. Malidoma Somé explains that in his culture, mental illness signals a spiritual crisis and “the birth of a healer.” When someone is suffering, people in the community assist that person through shamanic rituals. Of course in Western culture, everyone is expected to fit neatly into the norm, and anyone who steps away from the norm gets labeled as unstable, ill, and/or insane. The unusual symptoms and thought patterns displayed by the “unstable” person are viewed as a problem that need to be eradicated as quickly as possible. There is usually a lack of guidance and support to allow the person to navigate through the process naturally. Instead of becoming a healer, the person is expected to become a lifelong patient with no hope of recovery or healing. It is a depressing view of mental illness that limits our potential, and I think that view has become very outdated.

I have a history with bipolar disorder and was stuck for years in that limiting mindset where I viewed myself as a lifelong sufferer of the illness. My experience with manic-depressive episodes began when I was 17, and I coped with it for three years without medication. I’m not sure exactly what triggered my first episode, but I recall drinking energy drinks around the time it occurred. You might be thinking caffeine is too weak to trigger a manic episode, but I’m pretty sensitive to it and have avoided caffeinated beverages for several years now. My first episode wasn’t too intense. I just felt significantly more energetic, lighter, and more social than normal. My behavior and demeanor had shifted enough for a couple of friends to notice that I seemed different. The positive, hypomanic feelings lasted only a couple days, which was followed by a horrible crash that prevented me from getting out of bed and going to school. It was hard to explain it to my mother, but I just knew I couldn’t face the world and function while feeling that low. Around that age, I was no stranger to depression. I started struggling with depression when I was 15, and the manic episodes didn’t start until I was 17.

My late teens were a rough time. I had no plans for my future because I remember coping with depression on a daily basis that sucked away my hope and aspirations. Then, after discovering that the few friends I had were users, the depression turned into deep resentment against the entire world. To protect myself, I turned into a hermit and spent approximately a year-and-a-half in solitude without anyone to turn to discuss what I was feeling. Most days, I felt very depressed and hopeless, but occasionally, a hypomanic episode would strike for a couple of days, which was always followed by a crash into suicidal depression. It took me a while to notice the pattern in my mood swings, but once I realized what was going on, I tried to deny the fact that I needed help. I had convinced myself that I had bipolar disorder, but I stubbornly wanted to overcome it by myself.

In the 3 years of dealing with bipolar disorder without medication, I found that each hypomanic episode was slightly different from the other. Some were relatively mild and only caused me to feel hyper and happy. Some were terribly uncomfortable due to the fact that I could not sit still or concentrate. One morning, I woke up to such rapidly racing thoughts that I literally thought I was losing my mind. I wanted to scream out of fear and frustration. A couple of manic episodes caused me to feel agitated, angry, and irritable. Those were definitely uncomfortable. There were some episodes that caused me to feel more creative than usual. Then there were those episodes that were very blissful and magical. Though my energy was extremely elevated, I could actually think very clearly during those episodes. My thoughts were extremely positive. I felt powerful, confident, and limitless. I felt love and compassion for everyone and everything. Though I wasn’t a spiritual person at the time, I felt like there was a greater meaning to everything and that everything was perfect as it is. There was so much inner peace and happiness within me that I remember feeling like absolutely nothing could bring me down. I also remember during one of the magical, blissful episodes, I felt a sexual energy stirring inside me that caused me to feel attracted to people I wouldn’t normally consider attractive. It was odd and unusual to feel all those things I didn’t normally feel, but it was also intensely pleasurable to feel bliss and inner peace on that level.

In the eyes of someone who is not spiritual or consciously awake, I probably appeared to be a very unstable person who was in desperate need of psychological help and medication. I’m not denying that I felt very unstable when I went through all that, and medication and therapy did in fact help me, but I think it’s important to investigate why there seems to be a spiritual quality to some of the manic episodes that people, like myself, have experienced. To be honest, I didn’t start noticing the spiritual undertone to some of my episodes until a few months ago when I read a quote by Adyashanti that says, “All is always well even when it seems unbelievably unwell.” I immediately remembered how that exact thought came to me during a manic episode when I was 20. The thought popped into my mind that no matter what is wrong on this planet or in the universe, it is all perfectly ok and serves some kind of greater purpose. There was no desire to fix or change anything because it seemed that everything would eventually balance itself. I knew that everything would ultimately be ok no matter what happened. Being in such a peaceful, accepting state of mind was far different from my normally anxious self that wants to fix things and make them better. To an awakened person, it might appear that my ego temporarily dissolved while I was in the manic state.

It is still difficult for me to understand why I experienced all those strange and unusual symptoms at that particular time in my life, but now that I have been having a true spiritual awakening for the past year, I wonder if maybe my mind, body, and soul were attempting to undergo a transformation years ago. Perhaps there was too much pain within me back then that needed to be released and healed, so it’s possible I wasn’t prepared yet for a fuller awakening. I wonder how many people have followed a similar path in which they had a full spiritual awakening after experiencing manic episodes. Is it possible that if someone has bipolar disorder, they are more likely than the average person to awaken?

I don’t personally know a ton of people who have struggled with bipolar disorder, but almost all the people I have met who’ve had bipolar disorder or bipolar tendencies were awakening or had so much potential to awaken. Well technically, everyone has the potential to awaken, but some of the people with bipolar disorder whom I’ve known appeared so close to it. While I was an intern at a mental health clinic, one of the clients I worked with had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and almost every single time I saw her, she said she was having a spiritual awakening. My boyfriend, who helped awaken me to all the major conspiracy theories a couple years ago, dealt with a mild version of bipolar disorder in his teen years. The person who educated me about factory farms and encouraged me to become a vegetarian had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One of my online friends whom I refer to as my soul sister is following the spiritual path and was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A friend who was a former atheist eventually became very religious after experiencing severe manic episodes. There certainly seems to be some kind of pattern here between bipolar disorder and expanding levels of consciousness.

What is the link, though? The traditional explanation in the field of psychology says that a difficult childhood can contribute to the development of bipolar disorder. Many people in the spiritual circle say that pain and suffering can lead to spiritual awakening. Does the pain and struggle of dealing with bipolar disorder lead to an awakening, or is bipolar disorder really just a sign of unresolved pain that causes our soul to awaken so we can heal ourselves? Maybe both are possible. In the past couple decades, why has there been a staggering increase in the number of adults and children who’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? It’s likely that the pharmaceutical industry is a major culprit here in misdiagnosing people so they can sell more and more prescription drugs, but it’s possible that there really are more people suffering with this disorder in recent times. If that’s the case, are bipolar symptoms a sign that humans are trying to evolve? Is it a sign that there is something horribly unbalanced about our lives today? There is an idea that our internal world and the external world are direct reflections of each other. If more people are feeling emotionally unbalanced inside, maybe we can assume that there is something horribly unbalanced about our lives and the world we live in today. These are all just ideas to consider to bring us to a closer understanding of the nature and origin of bipolar disorder. There are plenty more ideas to consider, and I’d love to hear any theories you might have created about why bipolar disorder exists and why manic episodes seem like spiritual experiences in some cases.

Here is an interesting perspective from Sean Blackwell about how bipolar disorder is linked to consciousness:

Although it can be very difficult and confusing for someone to swing so high into euphoria and then so low into depression, maybe there is eventually a pay-off if the person is able to work through it and heal themselves. I took medication for 7 years and saw a therapist between 3 to 4 years, but I’ve been going with a natural approach for 7 months now with no sign of relapse into a manic episode. I think healing is possible, but it may not be an easy, quick fix for everyone who has ever dealt with manic episodes. If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or any other mental disorder, I encourage you not to view yourself as a lifelong sufferer. Make positive lifestyle changes, obtain social support so you can discuss your feelings with someone, heal old wounds, and focus on loving yourself more and more each day. In a future post, I plan to share what helped me overcome the manic-depressive episodes that were wreaking havoc in my life because I feel like that’s an equally important topic to discuss.

I would really appreciate your comments about personal experiences or thoughts related to bipolar disorder since I’m attempting to come to a greater understanding about the link between mental illness and spirituality.