Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story. I will strive to write with honesty, authenticity, and courage.
Before I begin, let's talk business:
I am seeking funds in exchange for Salt Spring Soda dollars, redeemable at any market or festival our stand is set up. One Canadian dollar equals one Salt Spring Soda dollar, and, unlike apple kefir, the credits never expire!
Now, my story:
One week ago I was admitted to the hospital for concerns my family had about my mental health. I (along with countless others) have suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety for the past ten years. I have been off and on various antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic medications since I was just a child, 16 years old.
This time however, I was not depressed or anxious. Far from it. It didn't take long for a diagnosis to emerge: Type 1 bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. Uh oh.
I had, and still have, my doubts about the diagnosis. Despite everyone around me, from psychiatrists to family members to spiritual counsellors, telling me I likely (or even 'definitely') have this disorder, I believe there is something else going on. I'm still trying to find the words to explain what exactly that is.
My first 'manic episode' occurred in California after a ten day meditation retreat. My depression and anxiety had backed me into a corner so severe I felt I had no refuge in this world. My teacher Pema Chodron calls this 'the wisdom of no escape.' From this wisdom, this 'fertile ground of bewilderment,' emerged a solution: spirituality! Sit down, shut up and observe.
As I came out of the meditation retreat I slipped into a state of altered consciousness. I had no idea what was happening. Everything was exactly the same, and yet completely different. I felt peaceful, alive, and connected to the world. Wow, meditation works! The Buddha was right!
What followed was the best month of my life up to that point. I could spend hours simply sitting on a bench watching the waves crash. I could relate to people in ways I never had. Finally, it all made sense. Call it Buddha, call it God, call it Love, Tao, Dharma or enlightenment. All I knew for sure was that I was in love with life for the first time since childhood.
However, what goes up must come down. I spent two months on a permaculture farm in San Diego and then headed home. I was expecting to be greeted by the open arms of my community, as all initiations are meant to end. Instead, I got a little worse each day. A month later I was depressed, anxious and was overwhelmed by thoughts of self harm.
(Although mental health is no joke, laughter truly is the best antidepressant. Perhaps we should take a quick break.
In that spirit, how about a joke?
Q: What do you call the feelings of thankfullness that accompany a good fart?
As I slipped into a depression of the likes I didn't know was possible, I found Grace. Well, her real name is Sally, but she was my first true healer. The diagnosis? Depression. The medicine? Seroquel and fluanxol. And it worked.
Three days later I felt the medication working and six months later I was a new man. I had a job, friends, passions and a stunning girlfriend. Most importantly, I was now an Uncle to a beautiful baby girl, Freya. (Rowen took another 2 years to come into this world.)
Anyway, I had three good stable years. Every day was a bit better than the last. Then disaster struck. I took a tab and a half of LSD and had a terrible trip. I awoke the next day to find my personality missing. The spark was gone from my eyes, and I couldn't explain it. Next, a downward spiral. Six months of depression and anxiety so debilitating I lost most of my friends, was fired from my job, went massively into debt, and considered ending my life countless times. Luckily, I found Grace before I did anything rash.
We cycled through new antidepressants and anxiolytics medications. Bottles of red and blue pills lined my shelves and with each failed prescription my hopes were shattered. We tried upping the Seroquel and Wellbutrin, adding Abilify, and started talk therapy.
Nothing worked. So I prayed for a second chance.
Then I found Cymbalta. Or, rather, it found me. Once again my wounds healed. My business prospered, my relationships improved and I got my old self back.
So what am I doing back in the hospital? Living from the New Story has its consequences. My favourite author says that if you live from the New Story even ten percent your sanity will be questioned. Triple that and you'll end up in here for a week.
I have seen miracles in this hospital. Miracles of modern medicine, yes, but also miracles that spring from another Source. I won't tell of these stories here, but I have seen and done things I simply did not believe were possible even a month ago.
Now, I'm asking the Universe (or at least our little corner of it) for a miracle of my own. My words sour as my mind focuses on money, but the truth is we all need to have our needs met, and for the time being money makes this much easier.
I have lost a lot of money sitting in this hospital and have outstanding debts that need repayment. I'm not trying to get rich, but rather asking the universe to share its eternal abundance with me so I can continue what I have been out here to do.
I have been blown away by the compassion, understanding, deep intelligences, empathy, skills and kind words of the staff and other in-patients.
I will never forget the people here. Ian, Sally, Marie, Sage, Leo, Roger, Annie, Stefan, Dan, Pat, Jackie and especially my old friend and roommate Kevin.
Of all the gifts I've been given, it's friendship that I cherish most.
But friendship doesn't pay the bills.
All donations are gratefully received, and will be used to heal myself and humanity. If you choose to donate, your name will be put in our system and your gift will be matched in credits for kefir!
Any questions? Email me:
Thank you for listening. You're doing more than you realize.