Now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence.”
There is currently a lot of positive movement in my life, a lot of meaningful connections and realizations being made, and I’m overall just feeling so grateful to have made the decision to do Ayahuasca in December 2018. Now, two years later, my experience at Dreamglade has helped me quit my job to work on my mental health, start my own business (that’s currently on hiatus), become a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, and join a social change organization, all of which has been teaching me the healing powers and importance of community (way better than any traditional therapy I’ve ever done). I’m feeling more fulfilled and stable than ever before, largely in part to learning how to repeatedly surrender to the unknown and change my relationship with pain through cultivating deeper connections with the Earth and my own natural cycles. Plant medicine helps a lot with that, and this new perception I’ve developed since the Ayahuasca retreat has no joke gotten me through the pandemic and this crazy time in history. Not to mention make peace with my dad’s death and build resilience and patience to feel capable of mentally handling life’s difficulties. As I do more and more healing work to untangle the programming that got me to where I am today, I see how Western culture and the polarities of my upbringing contributed SO MUCH to my bipolar tendencies. Now that I finally have a break to get to know myself, I’m finding that for me, it’s all about learning how to manage my energy and shift mindsets and patterns to rewire my brain.
A huge pattern for me is suicidal thoughts and ideation, which is so common for bipolar minds since we feel so deeply, and the pain to keep living can become unbearable. There’s no ceiling to the mental pain we can inflict on ourselves, whereas if you break an arm for instance you generally know that the physical pain is temporary and it’s gonna heal. Around the time I got diagnosed, I was feeling constant pressure from wedding planning, work, and life in general that these thoughts became so overwhelming I was actually making plans to do the deed. It’s a huge part of why I took the plunge and bought tickets to Peru. For me, I was ready to die and I was terrified I wasn’t long for this world if I didn’t make a drastic change. I was about to get married, and I knew I had to learn to manage these thoughts because I couldn’t do that to my husband, dog, and any potential future children. Ayahuasca was a last resort, and I’m SO GLAD IT WORKED. My internal landscape has been permanently transformed in a way I never thought possible. Integration has taken a while, but I’m starting to notice profound positive changes in how I show up in the world.
Ayahuasca is also called the vine of “small death,” and I owe my intensely life changing ego death experience at Dreamglade to the decision of opening myself up to doing kambo, rapé and sananga. I won’t go into what these medicines all are, but you can click on their names to read about them. You can also check out our kambo experience here. All of these plant medicines have vastly shifted my perception of pain and increased my resilience to my bipolar episodes, helping me stay grounded, empty my mind, and create space for the universe to step in. They not only remind me that life is a miracle, but also that death is an important part of the cycle of nature, and it’s to be embraced. Even though it’s super hard to do (at least for me because I’ve had a TON of resistance). But thankfully, after a couple years, now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence. I ask “What part of me has to die? To be reborn? What is lashing out that I still can’t let go of?” I guess this is process.
One of the reasons I’m most grateful for the internet is because I feel like the healing and integration happening with me, right now, is SO supported by having access to rapé and sananga. Our brains get so wired with bullshit throughout our lives that repetition is necessary to break all these bonds to suffering that become our comfort zone over time. It’s an absolute DREAM to be able to do them on a consistent basis. This is my little kit! I named my kuripe Raul after the shaman at Dreamglade ;_; You can hear one of his icaros here…so glad someone posted this on Soundcloud.
I see now that the weed actually made my bipolar worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. As my awareness has increased, I notice how quickly I reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body.”
I used to smoke a lot of weed, but last month I developed a sore throat with occasional earaches. I took this as a sign that I probably needed to stop smoking. I’ve been doing a lot of embodiment exercises, yoga, meditation and the rapé daily (sometimes morning and night), but I was still giving in to the weed habit. As my awareness has increased, I’ve noticed how quickly I would reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body, either to soothe the mania or depression. I see now that the weed actually made it worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. It works for some people, but I’ve definitely read it’s not great for bipolar minds… something I never wanted to admit to myself until now.
I’m grateful for this neverending sore throat because I keep getting messages of “you need to stop smoking weed.” I tried my best to, but the other day ended up doing it again… and ended up going to the doctor yesterday since my throat and ears were so bad. After the exam, he said I looked perfect. Just as I thought…energetic. Of course I could do edibles but… what this whole thing is making me realize is that I had actually gotten addicted to weed which I never thought would happen. I really don’t want to live like that anymore. My body is done with that, and I’d rather come into my personal power than rely on getting “high.” My mania is already a natural drug anyway. What now feels more productive for me is shifting that relationship to pain and discomfort and learn to stay grounded and connected to the Earth to not get swept up in whatever energy is coursing through me from my moods.
“Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.”
– Kai Njeri
Growing up in America, I feel like I was taught to create unrealistic expectations for myself, and because those expectations would never be met, I’d just wallow in self pity, hating myself for not being able to make shit happen. We have also been taught to fear death and the natural cycles of life which are honored in other cultures. Just like the seasons, the moon, and everything else in nature… we have to die eventually, along with certain parts of ourselves. Otherwise, we’d have no space for anything new! One of my friends from Shakti Rising said the other day, “Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.” Seriously. From everything I’ve experienced and have committed myself to experiencing… embracing death is the best way to peace.
Which is why I am SO grateful for the plant medicine! Rapé is like jungle snuff that you inhale through the nose, an herbal blend made by various indigenous cultures in South America. You can read all about it here, what it is, benefits, all that. The one I have is an Ayahuasca blend, which has been MONUMENTAL in continuing the healing work with Mama Aya that was started in 2018. When my friend told me she found a site where you could get this, I actually cried. If interested, you can order it here from Rainbow Bridge. Proceeds support the indigenous cultures they work with, their customer service is incredible and rapé blends top notch… I’d highly highly recommend ordering from them. If you’re feeling called, please use the promo code RAINBOWHEALING for 10% off!! 😀
I’m dying because I just saw that they now have these HUMMINGBIRD KURIPES!!! Even though I absolutely love my lil shaman… hummingbirds are my spirit animal so I couldn’t resist ordering a new one, especially because they have a new Ayahuasca blend! So excited to try it!! 😀 I’ve been doing the rapé pretty consistently since December, and it’s enhanced my dreams and really helps me feel connected to Mother Ayahuasca. And talk about embracing death…When this stuff is taken with intention, I can attest — It’s absolutely life changing. Every day when I inhale through the left nostril, I meditate on what I need to let go from my life, and on the right, I meditate on what needs to be reborn… the newness that will take up the space of that death.
To me, life is now a ceremony. Because why not? This shit is magical.”
Amy also recently gave me a vial of sananga, which we did together in Peru at the retreat. I told her that I had been using it whenever I had a weed craving, which helped so much. These cleansing eye drops make your eyes sting for about 5 min, but they leave you with clearer vision, an empty mind, and often soothing messages. Here’s a conversation we had the other day that I don’t want to forget. She has such a beautiful way of condensing information, whereas I word vomit all the time. I love how she recognized that I was working on “not being afraid myself anymore” which is exactly it… pretty messed up how easy it is to get caught up in that type of self hatred.
The exact part of that Little Witch Academia episode unfortunately isn’t on Youtube, but this wonderful analysis of it is!!! 😀 I was blown away by how beautifully Trigger handled an exploration of the inner psyche. Definitely worth watching…one of my absolute favorite LWA episodes. (This show changed my life btw, highly recommended especially if you’re into that magic vs technology kinda thing)
Anyway, I remember taking that sananga at the retreat two years ago before the ceremony that changed me forever. It made me feel deeply in my soul that pain is temporary, and that learning how to move through it with grace was the answer to regaining my power. Now, continuing these plant medicine rituals, I find that to be absolutely true. I’ve even got Eddy starting to see the point of them when previously he thought I was insane. He’s been having a ton of physical aches and pains from working at the computer, and taking the sananga and rapé was able to shift his focus on his physical pain to the pain of the plant medicine… but in a good way. If only more people were more open to this! Mother Earth really does have all the answers we need…
When we went to do Ayahuasca, we were told that she always gives you what you need, but not always what you want. They said it was important to not have any expectations and to PAY ATTENTION to what she was trying to tell us. I remember back then thinking “HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE EXPECTATIONS?!” And I see now that the way to do it is to listen. Listen deeply for what the universe is trying to tell you…what each MOMENT is trying to tell you. It’s all there, it’s all within us, because we ARE the universe. Everything is so deeply, unfathomably connected, and the more I repeatedly feel this IN MY SOUL, the more I find that it’s absolute truth.
To me, LIFE ITSELF is a ceremony. The more I am able to deeply listen, the more I find that every moment truly is a teacher, and the more meaningful and profound this adventure becomes. I think… maybe I’m starting to get it 😉
“Nothing that goes on in anyone else’s mind can hurt you”
– Marcus Aurelius
There’s too much noise Energy draining out of me The urge to speak But most don’t listen Pulled every which way By those who are stronger At pretending to know The cause of the imbalance Unable to separate Wanting to help everyone Wanting to make a difference A fruitless labor They don’t want to be changed Wallowing in pain is instinct You can only change yourself Take responsibility I am too small to change the world Too large to be brought down by them Done with allowing myself To be lost within the lost I’m taking ME back My SELF, my VOICE, my ENERGY And I don’t care what anyone thinks Turn it off Shut it down You don’t have to be anything for them Just be You Now It is enough Always Do you trust me? Yes. It’s time to move forward Together.
“These hands could hold the world but it’ll never be enough”
– From The Greatest Showman, “Never Enough”
Scientists still don’t claim to know exactly what causes bipolar disorder. Some say it’s likely passed down through genetics. Others say it’s brought on by drug use or intense traumatic events like a death in the family or divorce. The more I attempt to understand myself and this “illness” that I’ve been diagnosed with, the more I see that the way I was raised and socialized in this culture is probably a huge reason I’ve developed these “manic depressive” mood loops. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that all of this is on a spectrum of how deeply people are able to “feel” within their own psyches.
In a culture of “not enoughness,” to feel as deeply as someone like myself is incredibly painful, leading to patterns of suicidal fantasies, constantly looking for a way out from the pressure of an invisible audience, the approval from a nonexistent authority figure. Because of pain from the lows, I have to chase and grasp at higher highs, and in this modern technological culture where stimulation is around every corner, the idea of “balance” starts to seem more and more impossible. Unless you start to raise awareness of your own cycles and face the consequences of what its like to get swept up in the extremes — how it affects those you love, your health, and your future. It’s tough to admit, and for a bipolar mind, incredibly painful to face. After tons of breakdowns and buckets of tears, this awareness has helped me immensely to commit to this healing journey of trying to understand myself from within. But just like one of my teachers says, this scarcity story, this need to chase the next high is not my fault, but “the sea we’re swimming in.” The narrative fed to us by a culture that just wants our attention, money, and information. Even though some of us may handle it better than others, we are all susceptible to the distractions and temptations of a modern technological society.
Bipolar, like ADHD, is often mis-diagnosed, and the more I open up about my symptoms, the more I find people who relate to these extreme shifts in moods and wonder “am I bipolar too?” Many of them update me later and tell me that they had actually been diagnosed with “anxiety” instead. It makes me realize that we always want to label this “brokenness” we feel, this “unbelonging.” Because so few of us actually feel like we “fit in” anywhere. But seriously — can someone tell me what “NORMAL” actually is? I don’t think so. Why? Because this idea of “fitting in” in itself was something programmed into us for generations, ESPECIALLY to the boomer generation, leading to mass burnout and unhealthy workaholic tendencies in a society just trying to get by.
Perfectionism is a tool of oppression in our patriarchal, white supremacist + capitalist society. An instrument to enforce oppressive power structures.“
This is especially obvious in this footage from the 1950s. It’s pretty chilling to know that this video was ACTUALLY PLAYED IN SCHOOLS!!!
NO ONE WAS EVER GONNA “FIT IN” TO THIS!! All it created were unrealistic expectations, and now the world has gotten SO overwhelming that an incredible amount of people have no idea how to handle the sensory overload, and a reality where “perfection” is actually impossible yet we’re all programmed to seek approval and validation to let ourselves know we’re “ok” because we don’t trust ourselves enough to believe we’re not crazy. It’s all so fucked. Plus, worrying about such an uncertain future in a country now ruled by the billionaire class has us all struggling to survive. Sold the idea of “The American Dream” — the concept of working hard to “become something” and strive for an unattainable ideal of “success” and to fit into a culture of a “normalcy” that never even truly existed.
No wonder so many people relate to these “bipolar” and “ADHD” sensibilities — we live in a dualistic existence, with that gap between balance getting larger and larger seemingly everyday as more comes out about the division between race, class, gender, religion, and everything in between. With more and more shit being sold to us every second, sensationalistic news headlines to hopefully win our clicks and valuable information, just so we can be sent another email persuading us to buy more garbage that will eventually end up in the ocean or a landfill somewhere, destroying more of our fragile ecosystem. Of COURSE this is going to affect our bodies and minds! We’re seriously at a point in history where we NEED to take our power back!
Anyway, from what I’ve seen, what sets bipolar apart is the propensity for mania, carried away by the highs of a magical fantasy world where all those worries melt away. When I began to start really looking at the difference between how mania and depression manifest for me, I realized I had become addicted to the highs of my own mind… how fucked up is that? (At least it’s been great to never need caffeine.) But who can blame anyone being addicted to any of these distractions and numbing agents (drugs, alcohol, the internet, etc) of our new world? The highs and lows of the actual physical reality we live in are so MASSIVE, that if you ever attempt to actually look at them, it’s DEBILITATING.
My point being… we live in an extreme world, and I believe that my sensitive bipolar mind functions as it does because I was raised by extremely opposite parents, with extremely opposite values. My mom being an immigrant from the Philippines, COMPLETELY sold on the idea of that “American Dream,” that anything was possible in this country of “plenty”, and my dad being a hippie who dropped out of high school – knowing it was a crock of shit from the beginning – and took all sorts of psychedelics, expanding his mind but being diagnosed schizophrenic and labeled crazy even in his teens.
My mom pushed that idea on me of needing to “work hard” and “get a good education”… no one could take that away from me. I was encouraged to take classes for “gifted” children,” pushed to get good grades, win awards and trophies, and pursue this academic life so she could brag to people about me, meanwhile filling my head with ideas of fear. Everyone was out to get me, everyone was constantly talking about me behind my back. Trust no one, even my own father. Focus on myself. This was obviously her way of protecting me, and my submissive dad, although all about peace and love, had no real voice in the relationship. I grew up under the heavy hand of perfectionism and toxic masculinity as seen through the lens of an immigrant woman who could never, and still can’t, see America for what it really is — a land of a people in denial of a history of wealth built off the backs of people of color. A land of cheap thrills, of doing anything to make a quick buck at the expense of your integrity. A culture of workaholism — giving your life and energy to people who don’t give a shit about you. This was the dominant narrative in my life, with my dad’s idealistic “peace, love, magic” outlook on the world taking a backseat. It sucks that my mom always just wanted what was best for me. A life that she didn’t — couldn’t — have in a third world country like the Philippines. But it became an intense pressure for me to become something unattainable, leading me to seeking extreme highs to distract myself from that pressure, and crashing to the extreme lows of feeling like I would never be able to meet the expectation I now had in my head, developed from the fear instilled in me.
I watched The Greatest Showman for the first time on my plane trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the first stop on my grand trip to Antarctica, the ends of the Earth. (After that experience, talk about “Never Enough…” ugh). I’m a sucker for musicals, and I’ve always been a fan of the concept of a “circus” — the awe, wonder, and magic part, not the violent exploitation of animals and those who were “different”. But I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to be entertained and moved by this romanticized Hollywood rendition of what we’d like to think of a circus to be. The sentiment is nice, and it’s such a perfect metaphor for my mania — darkness, contradiction and all. Nothing is ever as it seems, especially with a bipolar mind 😐 Plus, with my past of being practically raised in Disneyland and taught escapism early… it’s no wonder I have high expectations for life to be grand, and difficulties facing the “reality” of history. When I get swept up in that “high,” it’s as though everything gets more colorful and anything seems possible — my rose tinted glasses are on full blast! Childlike joy, awe, and wonder — all of that MAGIC you felt as a kid, when life was simpler, when fairytales were real, and the world was less complicated. That feeling of being truly ALIVE.
To me, that’s what mania feels like, and ohhhhhh man does it feel good. But the shittiest part about it is that it can never be enough. And that’s what I love about the message of this film The Greatest Showman — they address this pretty well, in a nice, lighthearted PG fashion that I’m hoping can get through to younger generations. It’s flashy and fun, with a nice hopeful ending that this self obsessed guy chasing fame, money, and self preservation will eventually turn it around and realize that spending time with his family is actually enough. Not realistic, but idealistic in the way that REALLY appeals to me lol… I am ashamed to admit but TOTALLY relate to Hugh Jackman’s character, and it was so great to watch it with Eddy because we frequently talk about how I share tons of similarities with his own father who passed away when he was a child. We think that he was an Enneagram Type 7, just like me, falling into the traps of gluttony, of seeking approval from an invisible audience. He ended up losing everything, including a successful business, his family, and eventually his life… all to the detriment of this “not enoughness.” Sometimes I wonder if all Type 7s are bipolar, or if bipolar and this ADDICTION to the highs and inability to handle the lows, is more of a negative pattern built into us as a result of this culture and ancestral wounds than anything else. And sometimes I worry I’ll never be able to overcome this insatiability… but never say never, right? I’m working on it.
There is so much to be grateful for in this world we live in, but it really does seem like the more we have, the more we feel we lack. I love this song from Greatest Showman that sums up how nothing can ever be enough… it’s beautiful and seriously makes me tear up ;_;
During THIS song, Tightrope, Eddy said “what story ISN’T this? This is also like Hook… it’s just different people experiencing different parts of the same tragedy.” It’s such a universal, repetitive issue that we seem to never learn from. What I keep seeing… in my own life and in films… is that regardless of these constant messages from media, so many of us have to experience these things for ourselves, go through this pain firsthand to truly learn the lesson. But I don’t want that for me… I want to learn instead of continually making this mistake as I have for years. Eddy relates to much to the wife in this song, and it hurts me to know that I constantly fall into the trap of being swept up in my mania, running off to “the next thing,” getting caught up in “novelty” rather than appreciating what I have right in front of my face. Then when I’m brought back to reality, I just fall into depression and am completely useless. It’s always great, and painful, to see such a disgusting part of yourself in display right in front of you.
I’ve mentioned before but last month I took a class at Shakti Feminine University called Cultivating Currencies, where I was introduced to my money story. We discussed how in the world economy, but especially the United States, we’ve been sold this narrative about “scarcity.” Nothing is ever enough. We’ll always be broken so we continue to be consumers and contribute to this capitalist system. We’re not appreciated for what we contribute to society, just what we contribute to this broken economy — to the detriment of our sanity, of our self worth, and of our values. And I believe that all of this extremity absolutely affects people’s minds in fucked up ways.
Gosh it’s so easy for me to get fired up and go on a tangent… I don’t even know if anything I ever write makes sense lol. But FUCK PERFECTIONISM, conformity and the need for validation — amirite? xD
The major assignment for my Resilience class these next 8 weeks is to meditate on “Enoughness,” and although I’m only on Day 2, it’s already starting to shift my perspectives and see more of the scarcity bullshit that plagues our lives.
It’s a trip to really start to connect with your body and start to be aware of what these sensations mean when serious mood shifts occur. Awareness really does seem to be the key to achieving any sort of feeling of balance… and after my manic episode last week I feel like I’m making a serious commitment unlike ever before. Enoughness needs to become the new norm! Gratitude is everything, each moment is a miracle, our body takes care of so much for us… “It’s” not out there — everything we need is already inside of us.
I’m truly sick of this extreme roller coaster bullshit. All it does is keep us in chains of our own making. Feeling whole is way more satisfying than this insatiable torture we’ve been fed. One last point to make that all of this reminds me of —
According to Lama Surya Das, when a student asked the monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “What is life like in the realm of the hungry ghosts?”, he replied, “America”.
The concept of the “Hungry Ghost” is one of my favorites to perfectly illustrate just what mess we’ve gotten ourselves into because of capitalism and our economic structure. Listen to Thich Nhat Hanh talk more about it here:
Last week I prematurely went back on Instagram and talked to way too many people which sent me into mania. Sleep schedule got fucked, lost my voice, got really sick, feel like I’m backsliding. I’ve never been able to handle the internet and I keep fooling myself into thinking I can.
Now I can’t find my phone and Eddy won’t let me know if he took it or not and I need it tomorrow for this class I’m gonna be helping facilitate. Now I’m hyperfixating because I don’t know if he has it or not and he keeps giving me cryptic answers. I can feel my energy going toward all this hatred and tension that really is absolutely pointless. He says I’m like a crack addict. Fuck technology. Seriously. As I sit here and write a blog post. Lol it really does suck to be a human in this modern age… contradictions everywhere…
This playlist helps. Lol it really is a convoluted mess of different types of songs, so it’s quite a journey to set it to shuffle and experience the roller coaster of clashing music. It’s such a great representation of my moods it always makes me laugh out loud.
SIDE NOTE: I meant to post about this earlier but lost track of time! I’m gonna be helping facilitate this Resilient: Women, Money and Soul class at Shakti Feminine University starting TOMORROW at 9am PST/ 12pm EST. If you’re interested, there’s still time to register here!!
Last month I took their Cultivating Currencies course and it seriously changed my life, helping me shift my values, examine money and scarcity stories programmed into me by society and ancestry, and cultivate the feeling of “enoughness” in a culture that teaches us we’re never enough. This will be a deeper dive into those concepts, offering tools to take back personal power while in sacred space with women 🙂 Women’s circles have seriously been the most beneficial thing to my mental health these past 2 years… I find that I learn the most when connecting to others and hearing their stories. It’s always such a great reminder that everyone is always going through such similar things and that none of us are ever alone.
Here’s a drawing I did during that class to represent how I was feeling about money at the time.
I call it “Hungry Ghost” because… that’s what America has taught us to be. Nothing is ever enough… we’re constantly marketed to, told that we’re broken and we need to buy something to fix ourselves. But really, we already have everything we need! It’s really great to have found this school and these classes geared toward reversing that deep programming ;_; If any of this resonates with you, click here for more info!
I had such a profound experience in the class that they offered me a the facilitator role of “Tech Queen” for this Resilience course 😀 I am BEYOND excited because all of this is seems to be divine timing!
Why am I here again? Oh yeah I was complaining about technology and here I am being tech queen for this class xD See? Contradictions everywhere. Definitely feel better now though 🙂 It can be so simple! Learning more and more about what I need for self care everyday.
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”
– Joseph Campbell
It’s crazy that it’s already Spring, and I’m really resisting the urge to beat myself up about how little I feel I’ve gotten done. Why do we always do that? Oh yeah. Because of our culture. Thanks America. Seriously it seems like COVID, in addition to all the dark systemic bullshit it’s brought up this past year, has also sped up time.
Last October I quit my job on Rick and Morty, which ended up being one of the best, most life changing things I’ve ever done. It’s funny because when I started at that studio I had this deep feeling in my soul that it was my last animation job… at least for a while. And I had ALWAYS wanted to work in animation. But I finally felt like it was time to try something different. I had been moving toward a different path for a while. Doing Ayahuasca in 2018 broke me open in ways I didn’t expect, and I feel like even with just 4 ceremonies it’ll take a lifetime to unpack. I honestly don’t think I could’ve gotten through this pandemic without having that experience… I feel like I would’ve had a major psychotic break if my inner world was still as negative as it was “pre-Ayahusaca.” To me it was a testament to how much I’ve grown… to be able to choose myself and step into my power to quit one of my favorite shows ever. I’d only ever quit one job before, and it was to pursue a career in animation.
I recognize now, looking back at that career, that I had gone into it with the wrong motivations, which made it absolute hell for my mental health. However I am FOREVER GRATEFUL for the experience. There were unfortunately just too many negative patterns built into me about survival and constantly feeling behind that ate away at my soul…making me feel like I would never be good enough (even though no one ever told me that). I thought that working around other artists would push me to become better, and that I would at some point stop feeling like an imposter, but this invisible pressure I put on myself just got worse and worse. I hoped my mental state would improve but it never did…and then I was diagnosed as bipolar!!! NO WONDER!!! It got to the point that my anxiety was so crippling I could barely look people in the eye and would hide in the bathroom and cry during crew events. Thankfully I managed to do the work, and strangely was able to fake it and make people believe my bubbly cheery mask even when I was totally dying inside. None of it would ever meet my expectations. I would never meet my expectations. Just like Stephen Fry says in his bipolar documentary “My stress is your easy day at the office. One person copes, the other goes mad.”
This is such a loaded topic and I have so much to say… which is why I’ve avoided writing about it so far. I’m so sick of having all these thoughts and nowhere for them to go…Ended up waking up at 1am to paint this in an attempt to ease my mind. Last week I finally started experimenting with the gouache I’ve had for like 5 years and realized I really love the medium! Don’t know how to use it, but definitely learning how to play with it 🙂
It kinda worked but now here I am writing because I don’t know what else to do with the rest of the energy… nothing seems to be coming out right. Nothing is flowing. When I look at that painting I think “TRAPPED” — like all this crazy energy but inevitably trapped again in the darkness…
STOP BERATING YOURSELF. WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS?!?!?!
Seriously… so fucking sick of it. This past week I was so manic, having meetings what felt like all day every single day, talking too much but being hyped up by every single conversation. I ended up losing my voice and my throat hurt so bad, and by Friday I was completely and totally drained, crying myself to a restless sleep that doesn’t feel like sleep at all. Some great messages and lessons came through though, the biggest being to surrender to the unknown. Which by now, yeah I know — The more I surrender, the more miracles I witness… the more I feel pushed along a path that, on good days, I’m super excited to keep going on… but then when my mind flips like this I just start to doubt everything again…
STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. THIS ISN’T WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO WRITE.
As much as I disliked the first Frozen, the songs Into the Unknown and Show Yourself from Frozen 2 have been like… an anthem for this time in my life. Into the Unknown specifically is such a great representation of what it feels like to be pursuing this path of “following Spirit.” Or you know… just life in general. We’re all traversing the unknown with this whole pandemic situation. What comes next? Nobody knows! And that’s ok!
ANYWAY. WTF IS ALL OF THIS I CAME HERE TO TALK ABOUT MY CAVE.
In January of this year, I realized that if I was gonna get ANYWHERE with my own business, I had to face my ultimate fear — my creativity. Someday I’ll go in depth about that, but definitely don’t have the energy for that right now. Running on fumes. But yeah. I was afraid to journey within myself to see what’s actually there… what I’m actually artistically capable of. Because you see… I had told myself I wanted to work in animation my whole life… but I think what I’ve really wanted to be is an artist. And really stupidly because of labels and mental hangups, even after working 6 years in animation I didn’t feel like an artist. When really, what I’m finding now is that art is an expression. Freedom. However, doing design for animation and drawing as an assignment each day really wore on me… stripping me of that freedom and making me forget what art even was. We’re ALL artists, but in these jobs I just felt like an imposter. A fake. Because my expectations of what I needed to be for other people were unreachable. And that was something that killed me inside everyday until I literally couldn’t take it anymore… The fear of not meeting those expectations amplified my shame and guilt to where I had to do something drastic.
Seeing it written out like that… it seems like no big deal. But again… because of the intense emotions compounding itself over many rollercoaster cycles over many years… the patterns of worthlessness and inadequacy wired themselves so deeply in my brain, piling up so high I couldn’t see myself anymore. Couldn’t see inspiration or joy anymore. All I could see was comparison.
I was trying to create a brand for my art, but was terrified of creating for SO MANY REASONS that I felt like even though I had this manic push to create my store (more on that later) I wouldn’t actually be able to keep it going if I didn’t figure myself out as an artist. I love that quote by Joseph Campbell — “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
So I decided to paint a metaphorical cave for myself, delete social media, put my phone in the safe (yes we have a safe that we put distractions into — mostly has videogames in it), and go on the inner journey I’ve been afraid of going on for my entire adult life — exploring my inner world through art. And so far… treasures are definitely appearing, but not in the form I would think. I’m not necessarily getting what I want, but I’m getting what I need.
I thought I’d be out of the cave by now, but holy shit a TON OF STUFF has come up since I’ve been in here… I’ve eased the restrictions a bit but I really do NOT feel ready to come out of the cave. Every time I try, I’m shown reasons why I really shouldn’t come out yet — mostly that I’m WAY too affected by other people’s energy and haven’t figured out a way to protect myself yet — and it pisses me off to not know when or how I’ll be able to get outta here. I’m both grateful to have begun this process, but anxious because it’s opened up a whole can of worms, which I guess is what I was afraid of in the first place. Now that it’s happening though, I guess it’s not too bad…more interesting and roller coastery. I can start to see inklings of how it’ll all eventually come together but fuck I just hate that EVERYTHING TAKES SO MUCH LONGER THAN YOU THINK IT WILL!!! AND I KEEP GETTING DISTRACTED!!!! >:0
My dear husband Eddy has been so patient with me these past 7 years, but he’s gotten to the point where even he’s basically done with my behavior and has taken it upon himself to force me to try and create finished pieces. I had literally developed a phobia of it… I’d wanted to paint for years but was so terrified of “doing it wrong.” So Eddy got me these Winsor Newton (expensive) watercolors for Christmas and some Arches paper (also really expensive), and because they were gifts I felt like I needed to use them. He has this thing that he does with me that he calls the “Thunderdome” (taken from Mad Max) where he basically locks me in my room to do art even though I literally scream and kick and whine, and he takes away my phone and checks on me every hour to see if I’m actually doing the art. It sounds extreme, but I’ve found that because of this “bipolar” thing, I apparently respond best to extremes. This cave painting ended up being my first completed watercolor ever, which is quite an achievement for me. Eddy hung it above my computer to remind me that every time I actually sit to do an art piece, I’m going into the cave.
The first time he did this resulted in an art piece that actually made me believe I could start this brand I’ve been dreaming up since college. It started being called “Tizzy” in my early 20s, with the idea being that the world was so overwhelming that it would always put me in a tizzy. I wanted to create clothing to cope with that overwhelm and remind myself that things were ok. But of course, I was too much of a mess and never able to create designs for it…and it’s something that bummed me out in the back of my mind for years and years and years. When I went to do Ayahuasca in 2018, it transformed into “Hasthira,” this word I made up combining the Polynesian word “Ha,” which means “breath of life” and “sthira” a yogic word meaning stability. The idea for a personal brand became a HUGE multi-faceted healing operation that was so painfully overwhelming, but it was even MORE painful that I was too afraid to even start.
But guess what — I ACTUALLY STARTED!!!! (Haha writing this out is making me realize how I’ve come pretty far and haven’t taken the time to truly recognize it…I guess that’s why it’s helpful to journal and see the words in front of your face).
Looking back at 2020… it was pretty weird. This is turning into a novel but… I’m realizing I probably need to get this stuff out. Super long overdue.
I guess the catalyst was my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training at The Yogi Tree. Well… the catalyst was actually Ayahuasca, which made me realize that I loved the “healing circle” retreat atmosphere and making real connections with people who also wanted to improve their lives. Learning how to be vulnerable around absolute strangers and be loved and accepted for it was completely new to me. After being so used to living in LA and working in the entertainment industry, it was refreshing to be around people who weren’t really interested in “what you did” but “who you were.” The level of depth I was able to experience with them made me feel like I had found a “tribe.” It made me realize that there were actually like-minded people out there who had the courage to break out of the system that wasn’t working for them and seek answers elsewhere. Choosing to live an “alternative lifestyle” never even seemed like an option to me until my experience at Dreamglade…
Returning to “the real world” from this dream retreat in the Amazon was so jarring I felt like I was being torn apart… it was incredibly painful to go back to my job after becoming so aware of duality and the suffering in the world. I felt like I was completely useless, trapped and unfulfilled. I distinctly remember one moment when Eddy was driving in traffic and I was looking out the passenger window and being in the depressing gray city environment surrounded by cars felt like absolute HELL. I started to shriek at the top of my lungs “FUCKING GET ME OUTTA HERE I FUCKING HATE LA I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE JUNGLE WHERE I BELONG” and started clawing at my skin. I really feel for Eddy. He’s put up with a lot.
Thankfully I’ve come a long way since then.
Because I was so out of control and ricocheting from mania to depression like nobody’s business while still having to work at WB, I decided I needed to find a way to integrate my experiences. And this is where those miracle synchronicities start to happen.
I came back from Peru in December 2018, and after about a week one of my friends who is SO not into spirituality at all saw an ad on her facebook for a free masterclass by this storyteller woman named Leah Lamb who does something called “Soul Stories.” She’s all about using stories for “healing,” to help us transition into new parts of our lives and step into who we’re meant to be. I felt like this had happened for a reason, especially because my friend had weirdly found this and recommended to me exactly when I needed it in my life. Even weirder, I was about to turn 30 and was going through my intense “Saturn Return” period at the time and she was offering a workshop on harnessing the energies of Capricorn to plan out the new year. I immediately signed up for that, and also a one on one mentorship with her. Looking back — holy cow this decision COMPLETELY changed the trajectory of my life.
The first thing I had to do for my mentorship was get a private soul story done by Leah — you can listen to it here it is in case you’re interested! (Background art was a piece I ended up creating for her)
She’s absolutely amazing 🙂 I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this… it deserves it’s own post but I’ll probably never get to it so — RIDING THIS ENERGY TO THE MAX.
There was too much going on in my life at the time and even though I had signed up for it at the end of 2018, I was too busy with work and had to push it until April 2019. Prior to that, in March of 2019, I went to do a Half Marathon in Antarctica with a friend. We had signed up for it back in 2014, deciding it would be an awesome thing to do when we turned 30. But wow… again this trip came at exactly the right time in my life. I totally would NOT have gotten as much out of it prior to Ayahuasca. Mama Aya really opened me up to embracing who I really am and living each moment to the fullest.
At one point we were kayaking and I had this unrealistic expectation of wanting to kayak over a humpback whale. When we got to the location and realized there would definitely be no whales there, my mind began to betray me and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, and a storm of thoughts came up like “this is gonna be so boring it’s just ice, what’ll we possibly even see here” I couldn’t even BELIEVE I was being such an ingrate, getting the opportunity to travel all the way to Antarctica — KAYAK even — and I was still complaining! Then Mother Ayahuasca’s voice came into my head, told me to be still, be grateful, and focus on the beauty around me. My mind became silent, I felt like I tapped into the universe, and everything changed. I couldn’t stop crying witnessing the beauty of my surroundings. Then the magic began to unfold.
We were kayaking through an ice field and it was silent except for the sounds of ice cracking every so often. It seemed like nothing was around, but then we noticed these little birds sitting on top of the ice! They were perfectly camouflaged — Antarctic terns!!! TONS of them!!!
THEN someone shouted they had seen a LEOPARD SEAL of all things! The seal started checking out our kayaking group, which was awesome to experience. Then we were called back to return to the ship, but me and my friend Bre ended up staying still because the leopard seal had taken a special interest in us. We were on our own, and the gorgeous creature decided to hang out, for quite a bit of time!! This will forever be one of the most magical experiences of my life.
I’ve always loved seals, but a leopard seal is different… this was a massive apex predator at the ends of the earth taking notice of us — PLAYING with us. When I showed this footage to the expedition crew back at the ship, they were really surprised because apparently leopard seals can be pretty dangerous. We saw a number of leopard seals during the trip, but this was the first one we came across, and also the biggest (which is why I’m convinced she was female even though at first I stupidly said “he” in the video). Later on we witnessed the aggressive leopard seal behavior when one of them wouldn’t leave the zodiac driver alone as she waited for our hike to finish — completely different demeanor than the one we met. Further evidence that this encounter was simply meant to be… I felt like I had experienced a noticeable shift in energy — like I had learned to “tap into the oneness” of nature.
TOTALLY SIDETRACKED!!! But basically why I even brought up Antarctica in the first place was to say — this was another event, really soon after Ayahuasca, that made me realize I couldn’t go back to a normal life. I had met so many amazing people on that trip, and especially fell in love with the One Ocean Expeditions crew, who were living these amazing alternative lifestyles I didn’t think were possible. Returning to my 9-5 job where I was sitting at a computer all day was torturous… I had to find another way to live.
It was after Antarctica that I started doing one on one sessions with Leah, which led to me doing an art piece for one of her projects and having the opportunity to go to a Women’s Retreat that she was hosting that July as a “work study”. It was called “Journey Home: Reclaiming The Wild Woman Within.” I couldn’t even BELIEVE it because one of the things I had started reading to help with my Ayahuasca integration was Women Who Run With The Wolves. Basically everything happening at this point in my life was rapid fire synchronicity. Not to mention this came right after the show I was working on at WB ended. I was already freelancing for Rick and Morty at the time, but I was basically home free.
This was the first women’s circle I had ever experienced, and became absolutely addicted to the magical, healing power of being in sacred space with women. Thankfully when I returned, I found out that the yoga studio literally TWO MINUTES from my apartment (I had lived there for 5 years at that point and had no idea it existed) offered women’s circles every month called “Women Join The Red Tent”!!! If you’re searching for a supportive women’s circle btw, they’re now being offered on zoom every first Friday of the month. Highly recommended 🙂 I’m usually always there!
I fell in love with the owner of the studio, Jen. She’s become my primary example of the “divine mother” archetype… completely selfless, nurturing — full of wisdom and unconditional love for everyone around her. This is why I ended up signing up for the Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training she was offering that year! I was on the fence about it, but when I told her about my bipolar, she said that it would give me really great tools to ride the waves of life. AND IT DID.
This Kundalini Teacher Training was crazy though because it started basically when I began my job at Rick and Morty. The energy of the job was the COMPLETE opposite energy of the teacher training group and it made me realize that I really did not feel like I fit into that type of studio environment anymore. I could feel the stark divide of my career and my soul’s destiny more and more each day….
AND THEN COVID HIT, two months before our training was supposed to be over. We had to do the rest over zoom which was quite an experience.
Teacher Training, something that was supposed to take only 9 months ended up taking over a year! We actually STILL haven’t had complete closure, and most of my group ended up dropping out. I am so incredibly thankful I made the decision to do it though because it taught me SO MUCH, not only yogic philosophy but what they call “Teacher Consciousness.” I broke through so many emotional walls, learned what a real community felt like, and built up confidence I didn’t even know I had.
We were required to teach 6 classes in order to certify, and I almost didn’t do it because I was absolutely terrified. Thankfully the teachers believed in me enough to not only convince me to teach, but supported me through the process. This was an INSANE time because I had to continue working, prepare for my classes, AND Leah had recommended me to a friend of hers to mentor his daughter who loved Rick and Morty and was interested in the arts! I had been saying that I wanted to quit animation and become a life coach, and MY FIRST CLIENT SOMEHOW JUST FELL INTO MY LAP!!! THANK YOU LEAH!! ;_;
It was also around this time that I had to stop taking my meds because they had caused Tardive Dyskinesia, a nasty side effect of antipsychotics where you basically lose control of your body. You can read about it in my previous entry here. I had to go to the ER and it freaked me out so much I swore off meds. It was crazy to be prepping for my classes, mentoring my first client, and working at Rick and Morty while still getting used to the pandemic and dealing with the transition of getting off my meds. Jen (my Yoga Mama) had a long talk with me about how I needed to take my health seriously, know when to ask for help, and keeping up my yoga and meditation practice to keep building my awareness of my cycles.
It’s still always a wild ride… but I think typing all of this out has shown me that I can handle it. As shitty as I feel sometimes… I really DO have tools and a support system to cope better than I ever have.
Why did I bring this up? OH YEAH! Because I said Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training was the catalyst to this life I’m living now which is so vastly different than the miserable life I felt trapped in at the beginning of last year before the pandemic started. It not only gave me those tools to surf the waves of life, but it helped me realize that the life I’ve lived has VALUE. Mentoring… teaching… passing on the wisdom I’ve gained through my experiences has proved so much more fulfilling than anything else I’ve ever done. My first client from last July referred me to another client, which led me to another…I know I’m slowly building the confidence to eventually expand my business, but what I have planned with the art side can still get overwhelming.
Which brings us to September 2020, right before I quit Rick and Morty when Eddy forced me to complete this piece.
Around the same time I discovered these e-commerce videos and it sent me into a manic state that pushed me all the way through the process of creating a store and getting enough art together to throw on product. I realized I loved doing this WAY MORE than having to draw for other people all day, and I already had two clients which was barely enough to pay my share of rent. I set a deadline for myself to open the store in November for the holidays.
I hadn’t experienced such a productive manic state like this in… I can’t even remember. Lol it was so jarring for Eddy because he said that to him it looked like, for the first time since he had known me, I was using my whole brain. I CAME ALIVE, and I was so terrified that I wouldn’t get the store open before my manic energy left my body, so I barely slept, barely ate, and when I ate it was shitty fast food because I didn’t wanna wash dishes — I knew I couldn’t waste any of this energy on work I didn’t wanna do, so I quit!
But after so many months of just running on empty and having so many crazy changes happen, after I opened the store I couldn’t even really make it to the holidays… I crashed SOOOOO hard and cried for days. I literally couldn’t do anything else — it was like for the first time in my life I was seeing myself. I saw how much of the rest of my life I had neglected during my mania… how it had affected Eddy, our dog Han, and other relationships in my life… My body and mind felt absolutely destroyed from lack of exercise and meditation — after I finished teaching my yoga classes I completely disappeared and cut myself off from my community to get the store done…
Yes I had started my business, but there was no way I could even manage my store or do anything new… my life was completely in shambles. With the newfound awareness I had built from my Kundalini Teacher Training and mentoring teenage girls, I became INCAPACITATED with guilt and shame of realizing the consequences of my mania.
Which brings us to January. I had so many plans for the new year that I had to painfully learn to let go in order to prioritize my health and well being. Which is why I decided to enter the cave… to once and for all deal with the core issues of my adult life… I kept telling myself that I would get back on social media every month, giving myself deadline after deadline and recognizing each time that I still wasn’t ready. The more stuff that came up, the more I felt like I had been poisoned… by our culture, by how I was raised, by past mistakes… The art I was producing was… ugly to say the least. But raw. And informative.
I hadn’t let myself just go crazy on a page before, and allowing myself to do so was absolutely liberating! I was starting to see the healing power of art, but it wasn’t exactly stuff I was comfortable putting on products to sell… I needed to empty my cup. I needed to stay in the cave. I didn’t realize that THIS is the sorta thing that would be coming out… but I guess it makes sense.
And now here we are in March. I wanted so badly to do something for the Spring Equinox and I ended up missing that too. Even though I’m trying to learn how to let go and tell myself its ok that I’m still not active on social media, still not promoting my store, still not creating new product, still not working on the Hasthira book I want to publish this year, still not updating my Bipolar Beastie comic, still not able to consistently eat healthy and meditate, still not — what was the point of this again?
It’s now 6:51AM and I started writing this at 2:30AM, getting distracted with uploading those Antarctica videos, getting distracted reminiscing about stuff… getting so distracted that I forgot I was in a bad mood when I started this blog post! Which is a huge lesson to me and anyone who actually read all of this (lol probably no one) — JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. I’ll get out of this cave when I get out of this cave, and it doesn’t matter when! Hell, even taking the time to write all of this is a sign I’m getting close. But who cares? I’m already doing the work to face all these parts of myself I’ve been terrified of looking at for years. That should be enough. It’s always enough. Because WE ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH even though our culture teaches us that we’re not. What a bunch of bullshit.
I was falling into those similar patterns of worry, self doubt, feeling behind. “Will I ever find my way?” Writing all of this down and taking a good look at how I’ve gotten here… it’s pretty obvious to me that I already AM finding the way. That I’m making a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to pursue the life I’m meant to live.
I’ve already come so fucking far. And so have you. So have all of us just from living through a goddamn pandemic. Anything is possible, nothing is how it used to be, and as awful as it is to see all of the systemic racism, wealth inequality and divisive bullshit in the world, this is a pretty exciting time in history. Because it’s time for something new. Everything is changing at such an accelerated rate and sometimes it really does feel orchestrated by the invisible hands of the universe.
We know the way — it just takes courage to go down the path of not knowing. But really… that’s the only path there is.