Monday, October 11, 2010

in light of Mental Health Day - Celebrating my Circumstance

In light of Mental Health Day (October 10th) I thought I would share my personal story, being fantastically honest and getting mental ill-health out of the fringes of our society. I was conditioned to be ashamed of my circumstance, but have finally got the courage to share my story. Hopefully, this will help shatter preconceived notions of what is considered to be mental illness.

It took me a while, but I now consider my underlying bipolarity as a blessing. I’ve learned to be in touch with my body and mind and this has allowed me to strike a balance in my life. I’ve had the opportunity to understand the world in a completely different manner from how we are usually taught; a world that has no binaries and no need for divisions, and a world where everything is possible. I’ve been attempting to apply what I’ve learned from unsustainable frames of mind to my life here on earth.

During my first extreme manic episode, I felt liberated from all that held me back beforehand; I abandoned my shyness, lost my inhibitions, acted on my ambitions, changed my direction, and became my own person. Of course, the way this was all happening was not sustainable. While I was taking some positive directions, I was doing it to the detriment of my health and relationships with people I loved. Sleeping became unnecessary. Everything starting seeming very coincidental, and more and more, it seemed as though these coincidences revolved around me. From someone who was quite modest and shy, I was becoming extremely outspoken and confident. It seems that I completely skipped a happy balanced medium of a ‘just right’ sustainable confidence, and shot right through to considering myself as an invincible divine entity. I was not living on earth, and my close friends and family soon caught on.

It soon became very ugly. Nothing was ever enough. I had an unquenchable thirst to continue expanding, doing, and marching on uncharted territory. I did not consider myself to have any limits of strength or invincibility. And I also saw myself above any kind of moral or civil code. This made for quite a dangerous cocktail.

I knew they were taking me away. But part of me knew that it was necessary. Although I have quite a few issues with how psychiatric hospitals and wards are run, it was necessary for me to get away from all the sources of stimulation that I had immersed myself into. After I got back from the hospital, I hit rock bottom. I did not know who I was, what to do, or how I fit into my world.

Once I slowly started rebuilding myself, I realized I could let go of all the characteristics of myself that I did not want. I started believing that the possibilities were endless and took the time to explore what I wanted to work towards in my life. I decided that I would explore ways to be involved in causes of social justice. I became very interested in feminisms, specifically post-colonial feminism which sees gendered oppression as intimately linked with other kinds of oppression, linking feminism to other social justice struggles.

Part of my healing process was volunteering at the psychiatric hospital where I was hospitalized. Speaking with other patients and accompanying them through their healing process was both very difficult and therapeutic. After 5 years, I think I am now ready to promote awareness on mental health issues in my communities. A feminist approach of anti-oppression and intersectional identities will underlie my involvement with groups involved in such work. Publically writing about it is a first step.

Here is a poem that describes my journey thus far.


5 years since the curse-blessing
5 years since my diagnosis
5 years of (in)sanity pills

5 years since « everything and nothing »
since « seeing everything »
since hearing everything

infinite receptiveness

infinite consciousness

since being completely invincible
since having the power to do anything
since not seeing the lines
since having a clear vision of my future and my happiness
since everything making sense
since constant coincidences that were a little too. . . coincidental
since seeing all the signs and becoming them too
since being in another dimension
a dimension with no rules
a place where I felt…was divine
a place that didn’t require sleep
a place that alienated me from everything that I knew
a place that eventually brought me to another

very different place
a place with no color, just white
a place that stripped away your identity
a place that stripped away your humanity
a place that labeled
a place that rendered you crazy
a place that stole your soul and promised to give it back
promised to give it back if you accepted
straight jackets, antipsychotics, sleeping pills,
lithium, supervised showers, and most nurses
and doctors treating you subhuman-ly

and then back ‘home’, back to ‘reality’
a place that I didn’t recognize
a person I didn’t know how to be
in a society whose rules I didn’t quite understand
feeling like nothingness, feeling colorless, feeling
empty of everything
going further and further into a bottomless pit of
existential questioning
and finding no answers
and no reasons to go on

but eventually
and veeeeeeeeeeeeeery slowly and non linear-ly
with the dear support and help of family and friends
therapy and yoga
building back my (an) identity
leaving behind characterisitics of myself that i did not want
working toward a self that I wanted to become

and now?
I don’t want to be medicated anymore
But i want to be balanced
I’m finding that balance
A place where i can tap into a sustainable confidence,
A place where i can recognize my divinity
But also live here, on this earth, in this dimension
And take full advantage of my circumstance


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Milena! You are an inspiring woman.

  2. Dear Milena,

    This is such a beautiful and moving piece. Thanks so much for sharing this and spreading the love and faith you have gained through your experience.


  3. Merci beaucoup pour ton courage et ton honnêteté!

  4. agree... I wish and hope more people are able to share their stories to help us all in facing our own demons/ ourselves.....