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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Because I am worth it


Let me introduce to you one of my voices.

True, in one of my previous posts I mentioned the Porcupine as one of them (http://porcupineswisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/voices-in-my-head.html), but upon reflection I decided that he was more suitable for a rubric of delusions (I will consult him on whether he agrees).

I have many voices. I don’t hear them anymore but they are in a dormant state somewhere in the background, promoting me occasionally to think more about them and question their purpose.

Like the voice of the TV, for instance.

Before you start saying that the TV is already a voice (well, it does talk, doesn’t it?), I need to emphasise that in my case the TV was talking, only not necessary something which other people could hear as well.

“Ekaterina, you are a beauty queen of Belgium!”

“Ekaterina, you are a face of L’Oreal!”

This was what was transmitted to me by a good-looking guy from the screen.

I have to say that at that time the message was lost on me because of a particular belief I was pursing then. I was trying to be a Buddha because that revelation (that I am a Buddha) came to me several months previously and it was a profound one.

So, my concern was mostly about how to incorporate the Buddha’s thinking into the daily life. Like should I abolish all my material pleasures or could I pursue them still?

Later, however, that voice from the screen started to bother me slightly.

Like, for instance, who was that guy and whose voice was it?

I have to admit that when I cited all these messages to my treating psychiatrist he put it into the label of a ‘delusion of grandeur’. Apparently, all these things that we hear and which sound better than the real life belong to that category.

The explanation seemed reasonable, even if not a very welcome one (I would prefer that the psychiatrist would produce a contract with L’Oreal instead), but its reasoning came under my analysis only several years later.

Several questions became of a particular concern. Like if I am a beauty queen then why of Belgium (I did live there) and not of Russia or the Netherlands (the country where I heard the voice)? And why a face of L’Oreal and not of Dior or some other brand which I seemed to consume without thinking how it would affect my budget (badly)?

And it is only when I was writing my PhD thesis that a possible other explanation came into my mind. First, we are all affected by the celebrity culture, even if we claim that we are not. And second, if the voice was promoting L’Oreal then maybe it was indeed a good brand.

The fact that the voice could come from the Devil, this explanation reached me only later, when I was firmly established on my dose of Seroquel.

And so, I made an experiment. I switched to l’Oreal! And I have to say that I am very happy. Much cheaper than other fancy brands and the quality is amazing.

And to conclude I will quote from a song by Nickelback ‘The Rockstar’. I think it does summarise quite well the celebrity culture.

I'm through with standing in line

 To clubs we'll never get in

 It's like the bottom of the ninth

 And I'm never gonna win

 This life hasn't turned out

 Quite the way I want it to be

 

 (Tell me what you want)

 

 I want a brand new house

 On an episode of Cribs

 And a bathroom I can play baseball in

 And a king size tub big enough

 For ten plus me

 

 (So what you need?)

 

 I'll need a credit card that's got no limit

 And a big black jet with a bedroom in it

 Gonna join the mile high club at thirty-seven thousand feet…

Etc, etc…

Watch the video on Youtube

 

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Let’s cheer up little bit, shall we?


It is all doom and gloom on the scene of that is currently known as ‘mental illness’ issues.

There are a lot of voices lately discussing them in the press and elsewhere. There was mental health awareness week, there was a mental gala ball organised by a charity, there are articles about all these poor people who are ill.

And what I started to find slightly annoying is that it is all entirely sad.

True, depression is sad, and in my opinion, it represents a sane approach to the world which is hugely insane (I won’t elaborate on it for now). But the same, very depressing attitude goes for the rest of mental health problems.

Got schizophrenia? Doomed for the rest of your life! With tearful relatives reminding that you not only spoiled your own life, but also theirs.

Bipolar? The same: don’t forget that once you got this diagnosis you will be ill for the rest of your pathetic life.

Sad, very sad. And the mainstream media is shouting this sadness every time there is an article covering the mental health scene. It is like listening to an endless chanting at a very prolonged funeral. Funeral of all those who are unfortunate enough to get the label of being mentally ill.

Come to think of it, it reminds me of a particular card in the Tarot deck – four of cups.
 
On it we can see a man sitting next to a tree. There are four cups in front of him, with one of them being presented to him in a very clear gesture, but he is very obviously oblivious to it. The man seems to be deeply asleep. Rachel Pollack (in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom) describes this situation as “apathy.” And as she continues: “What we can call the ‘negative imagination’ makes us look at everything as worthless or boring. There seems to be nothing worth getting up for, nothing worth doing, and nothing worth examining.”

True, in the world of mental health, there seems to be a lot of ‘examining’, but there isn’t much left worth getting up for. It is like they want us to remain sad, reinforcing the stigma every time they proclaim that mental illness is a ‘terrible disease’.

But I beg to differ.

Madness is a gift. And if you come out as a winner and realise that you can still be happy, enormously happy, then you will reach the conclusion that you were never ill in the first place.

There are plenty of people who are mad and are very happy.

I put a link to this music video in one of my other posts, but I put it again. It is like it was made for us, the mental, so I advise you to watch it - Heroes
 

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Ship of Fools and the satire on sanity



Among the depicted works we can see such masterpieces as Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Vittore Carpaccio’s The Healing of the Possessed Man at the Rialto.

This was perhaps a brave attempt to show madness from a different perspective, but still not quite a very successful one. The author of the article makes clear what he thinks on the issue right from the first sentence: “Art has led the way in seeing mental illness not as alien or contemptible but part of the human condition – even as a positive and useful experience.” I might be the only one to decipher some patronising attitude in this statement, but then I do sympathise with the author as it is perhaps really hard to see that something is not an illness in a society defined by medicalization.

And this is what I want to talk about in this post. I would like to describe the condition of the current society from the perspective that it is all those who are socially constrained, end up being insane and not the other way around.

And I will use an example from the art world as well.

Let’s look at the following painting by Jheronymous Bosh called The Ship of Fools, or The Satire of the Debauched Revelers.

On it we can see the debauchery caused by some distinguished members of the society. The two figures in front are a Franciscan friar and a nun, quite unthinkable at the time of the painting (1490-1500). Which is also the case today, apart from some Youtube videos showing Russian priests being drunk and swearing on God’s name that they can have whatever they want, including millions of dollars in the car’s trunk. I have to say that the behaviour of some Christians was perhaps the main problem for me to reach my own faith. Until I understood, of course, that not all Christians deserve to be called as such and not everyone who goes to Church believes in God or understands his significance.

But this painting, in particular, has an additional meaning. The ship itself holds the biggest symbolism. Because it was on these kind of ships that the mad were put and sent into the fools’ paradise (into nowhere) in the Middle Ages.

On this painting, however, there is only one fool, and who is put there with a purpose: to remind the viewers that it is the ship of fools indeed which is depicted. But by placing other characters, so called ‘sane’ members of the society on it, Bosh made his view on madness quite clear.

It is not the mad who should be sent away or treated but all the hypocritical members of the society who harm others in the name of God.

In our generation we can talk about all those members of the society who judge others while failing to analyse their own short-comings in the first instance.

Watch the amazing video of Hozier Take me to Church.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hearing voices?


Be glad.

I know, it runs contrary to the current thinking. Hearing voices is condemned, not understood and usually involves a diagnosis, such as schizophrenia. And since the psychiatry has such power in our society, we all tend to agree that all those poor people who seem to lose touch with reality, need help, pitiful looks and a patronising attitude.

The latter is especially annoying and I started to come to the conclusion that I should become patronising towards all those who don’t really see or hear, but this would run contrary to Jesus’s teachings. We are supposed to love each other.

And so, I should probably try to explain. By using the example of voices.

Mystic experiences have been part of human history since the beginning and hearing voices is one of them. I really don’t understand, how can one say to another human being that what he hears is not true when he doesn’t hear it himself? I do wonder sometimes about who is really mad here, the psychiatrist lost in his highly constrained world or the patient who is blessed with visions?

Well, I do know the answer, but it took me years to understand that everything which happens in our madness is just a part of another, hidden reality. I also think that that movie Matrix is not that far from the truth.

The current approach in psychiatry is to try to erase voices. The same goes for anything else which can be considered as slightly weird, but voices are often of a particular concern. Because they do cause distress (at least initially) to all those whom they address.

And as a consequence, because of a huge misunderstanding on the part of doctors and ‘mentally-ill’ (I put it in between brackets on purpose), these voices are immediately shut down with the help of monstrous pills.

I am not against medication but medication can really kill when one doesn’t get to the core of the matter.

Just try to put yourself in the shoes of a person who has had such an experience. You hear something which others can’t, it might be terrifying, or pleasant, but the result is always the same. One receives a diagnosis, is drugged and is unable to live a normal life ever again. How can one? Not only one becomes terribly tired due to drugs, receives a label of a ‘retard’ but also knows, somewhere deep down, that it is all wrong. And it is.

Voices do matter. If someone hears them, it means that there are there. I know a psychic who could talk with my dead relatives, describing them as they really were when alive and even giving me their names in Russian. She makes money on this ability.

The difference between this psychic and those who receive the label of being ‘mentally-ill’ is that she learned to listen to the voices. Probably they were not as overwhelming, maybe she was seeking them by herself or maybe she was simply lucky.

Or maybe, she never heard the Devil.

I did and after pondering over different issues associated with madness, I am reaching a tentative conclusion.

All those who hear too many voices are simply lost between the ugly ones and the good ones.

And the trick is to learn how to listen to them. Ban the bad and listen to the good.

One such survivor Eleanor Longden has an amazing story to tell on this account http://www.ted.com/talks/eleanor_longden_the_voices_in_my_head. I call her a survivor because despite having received the diagnosis of schizophrenia she learned how to get away from the psychiatric system, did a master degree in psychology and learned what her voices meant. As she says, hearing voices and this can apply to anyone who is mad, is a sane reaction to insane world.

So, be glad that you can hear.

God is trying to reach you.

So that you start seeing heaven from here.