During this new phase of mastery in managing my mental illness, I have been struggling to make sense of extra-sensory, intuitive experiences I’ve encountered in my stability. In manic and depressive states, I am very sensitive to energy emitted from the “unseen.” I am tuned into the vibrations of the Earth through the weather and the elements. I’ll wake up to a rainy day and feel an impending doom. Other times the warm breeze will caress my skin and I’ll feel the tender love of my ancestors. I sense the energy and presence of someone who may be trying to connect with me telepathically. In response, I act on the impulse to connect by texting or calling the person to find out they were about to contact me. In more extreme altered states, I receive messages in visions and dreams. I would get the overwhelming sense that I have a message for someone. I’d end up channeling words that person needed to hear. It was not unusual for my words to inspire tears, relief, or awe. I was baffled that some would categorize a verbal expression of one of a hunch as prophetic.
It was a confusing time navigating these states because it was hard to parse through what was chemical, what was spiritual, what was real and recognized as real to others, and what was a false concoction of my mind spiraling into confusion, disorientation, and disarray. When in recovery, I had to abandon every notion that I possessed any empathic gifts to survive the experiences that I could not make sense of. I planted my feet so deeply to this Earth so as not to risk energetic levitation and dissociation. I renounced my spiritual practice, my tarot cards, my crystals, and even yoga and meditation. However, now that I’ve gained more confidence in my ability to keep myself grounded I find that my intuition is knocking on my door, waiting to be welcomed again.
The most recent example of this concerns an old friend who has re-entered my life. Reconnecting when we did was a full circle experience. We are both in a place to meet each other where we are at, but our communication has also reopened wounds. This friend was from a the period in my life when I was drowning in my altered states with no knowledge of how to swim. Attentive to my need for self-care as I re-engaged with traumatic memories, I was cautious about the frequency of our communication. I wanted to rebuild a friendship, but not trigger myself in the process. My intuition came knocking after almost two weeks since our last correspondence. For some reason, I needed to reach out, but I did know why. Instead of a clear answer, I got strong somatic sensations. The more I ignored my intuition to reach out, the more uncomfortable I became. I felt slimy. I had this gnawing sensation like ants were crawling up my skin. Days rolled by and my failed attempt to ignore this feeling starting morphing into mild paranoia.
To get some relief, I went to a Perinatal Psychosis Support Group and shared what I was going through. I was somewhat relieved that other people said that they too had experiences that mirror the sensations of psychosis even though they were stable. After the session, I took a shower hoping to wash away these feelings I knew did not belong to me. I got out of the shower still feeling grimy so I finally gave in and texted my friend. We had a phone call later that week and the sensation lifted. When I finally disclosed what I had been feeling, my friend revealed what was going on in their life and all the pieces fell into place. I got confirmation that I was tapping into events and emotions that were not my own, but something was calling me hold space and show up as a friend.
Given this experience, I am reconsidering my initial position on the place of intuition in my life. Growing up in the church, I was told I had wisdom and spiritual gifts from a young age. I definitely fit into the Wounded Healer archetype as I am constantly looking for ways to alchemize my own traumatic experiences into something of value to help others. Early in my journey with bipolar, I was intrigued by other cultural understandings of mental illness that view the experience as a necessary spiritual crisis for a healer to be born. Before embracing the biomedical model, I sought out spiritual teachers to guide me through my mental health/spiritual crisis to become the intuitive healer I knew I was deep down inside. Considering that my intuitive tendencies have not disappeared since finding stability, I am ready to reintegrate my spiritual and empathic side. This integration work requires deep self-trust and self-compassion. It invites me to play, connect, and not fear failure. Now that I have found the ground beneath my feet, life is teaching me how to be carried as I levitate and how to go mad without losing my mind.
Photo credit: John Jude Palencar
Image Description: An afrofuturistic profile image of a nude Black light-skinned woman looking down against the backdrop of a horizon. An eye emerges out of the pieces of skull separating from her head.