It’s A Choice

Eddy: Why do you have to be so sad?

Me: I DON’T KNOW.

Eddy: You don’t have to be.

TRUTH. Honestly, I know it’s a CHOICE. I always know it’s a choice… yet I keep choosing wrong! Or is it even wrong? Shouldn’t it be right to allow myself to feel these emotions so I can let them pass? It’s getting tiring though. I know it’s all a cycle, but the cycle is so painful… What am I even looking for? I know the good mood never lasts… so I can’t help but keep feeling like maintenance on this human form is just so tiresome… AND IT KEEPS GOING. There’s no way out.

But technically there is… that choice. The patterns of the mind are so damn strong. Stop choosing to be miserable.

The Pain of Duality

“Grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” – Dan Harmon’s Therapist

Yesterday was my first day as a character designer on Rick and Morty. I felt really lucky because it ended up being one of their monthly screening parties where they show a finished episode and have pizza and beer and do a raffle. In the beginning the creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland got up to say something before showing the episode, and Dan’s speech really got to me. It’s been a rough season and a lot has happened, and he wasn’t afraid to reflect that in his speech which was so admirable to me. He mentioned a “sociopathic god” and how we don’t know if he loves us or hates us so what we end up getting is “randomness”, and how his therapist said that “grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” At the end when he was thanking the crew for their great work, he said that as creatives our minds are different, and basically how we should embrace that. He said something like “so have your anxiety, depression, autism—whatever! Your brains are brilliant how they are, and because of those brains coming together we’ve made the best cartoon in the universe!”

This REALLY got to me, more than I even realized. I was still contemplating it in sadhana this morning, and it turned into a meditation on the nature of duality and mental illness. I feel like this year I’m really only starting to feel the real effects of my bipolar diagnosis from last year, which I can only say because of a drastic perspective shift. Working in animation has always been a love/hate relationship for me, because even though it IS a dream come true and what I’ve always wanted to do, working the jobs themselves simultaneously makes me hate myself for my current skill level, and also makes me wanna quit and do my own thing because I feel like I’m wasting away helping someone else complete THEIR vision, even though I haven’t felt like I have adequate skills to make my own thing ANYWAY. But starting at Rick and Morty and hearing Dan’s speech…I couldn’t help but feel welcomed in the best way possible. I felt like because of what these creators experience, they’ve created something really special…something that has managed to become the most popular cartoon on TV and find a place in cartoon history for a reason. They are able to inject existential angst and the struggles of life in these high concept sci-fi adventures which lightens it up enough to be digestible by the general public, and make everyone who watches the show feel like they’re not alone cuz “Hey! Someone else is feeling this way too!” Hearing them talk, especially Dan, made me feel like it was DEFINITELY the place for me. A place that understands and welcomes the pain of existence…a place where you can just be. A place where I can truly work on a show with a message that I’m proud of because it’s the message that I too want to spread. 

Anyway. All of that stuff made me realize that as humans, we ARE duality manifest. ALL of us. And within the duality we experience, we begin to cling onto SPECIFIC aspects of duality and obsess about them. For me…something that hit me real hard today was noticing that I go back and forth between thinking mental illness is real and thinking it’s fake. Back and forth between believing I’m “bipolar” and wanting to just attribute what I feel to “being emotional” and I’m just how I am because of my past and environmental factors. Nature vs nurture right? But what Dan said about artists brains made me think…

Diagnosis or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A DIFFERENT, SPECIAL BRAIN. That brain makes our minds function in complex ways that we spend our entire LIVES trying to cope with and figure out. But I think…as a human…this is always how it was meant to be.

The fact that I’ve been stuck in the duality of “bipolar or not” shows me that, even though I wanted to kinda “transcend the label,” I’ve still been focusing too much on the “label” without fully accepting how I actually am. I suppose this is the first step to acceptance…and it’s not that I’m necessarily trying to accept the diagnosis itself, I’m more just trying to accept MYSELF — myself and how my brain makes me think and function in this reality. It’s incredibly liberating to see that this is one of the prisons ive been trapping myself in. Now hopefully I can remind myself I’ve come to these conclusions next time this arises! That’s the challenge, right? Haha!

Something else that came through during sadhana this morning was this thought of “are we all just constantly somewhere on this duality spectrum until we cross a line from light to dark, negative to positive?”

Maybe “bipolar” can just be thought of as a term for people who cycle between those opposites quicker than others, who make their home at the actual POLES rather than the in between. And maybe this definition is an easier way for me to accept how my mind operates.

In a similar way, people who are depressed are more inclined to the negative pole. We’re all just vibrations and frequencies anyway right? And one of our goals in life is to raise our frequency go move more toward the light? Easier said than done but…that’s why I’m doing this Kundalini Yoga Training! 

In sadhana, the song choices that my teacher picked were a completely different vibe than yesterday. To me, they all sounded melancholy, somewhat urgent, yet angelic…seeming to express “it’s tough to live in a world with duality, but that’s what makes it beautiful.” 

This past weekend we were learning yoga nidra, and one offshoot of it is called iRest, a program developed by Robert Miller I think in the 70s to help with the PTSD of war veterans. In this set, we did an exercise to experience opposites — hot/cold, anger/joy, light/heavy — first separately, and then we were asked to try and experience them together. I could very easily feel the opposite sensations in my body separately, but when trying to feel them together I got frustrated and confused because my body just wasn’t able to grasp it. And after feeling that confusion for a while, I ended up just relaxing and achieving a sort of “calm.” When asked how we felt after the exercise, I raised my hand and described my experience and one of my teachers said that “calm” I felt is essentially the experience of infinity and the goal of yoga — to embody that stillness BETWEEN opposites. She went on to explain that in our human experience we can ONLY feel opposites SEPARATELY, which is why the darkness is necessary in order to know the light…the pain is necessary in order to know what it feels like to be happy. It’s that age old concept of yin and yang, and although I always “knew” about it since it’s so widely spread in our culture — that idea of the light and dark being NECESSARY to balance the world…to FEEL IT in my body was a COMPLETELY different experience. One approaching a more “true understanding.” 

I think BECAUSE I feel so much being bipolar, it’s so easy to be at and experience the POLES, because they’re EASIER to feel. Even though the negative pole of depression is difficult to be IN, it’s more apparent to feel THAT than some vague in between, and it’s also easier to feel the “positivity” of mania. But thinking about what Dan Harmon’s therapist said with GRIEF basically being the in between…it makes so much sense to me. I would RATHER experience the POLES than the IN BETWEEN because the grief of knowing that sooner or later I have to go back to one or the other is maddening. And that’s the melancholy I heard in the songs this morning — it’s almost like a constant state of underlying sadness, knowing that each day inches us closer to our deaths, and if we hold ourselves back and continue to have unrealistic expectations, then being in the in between will always somehow feel like failure. And that’s constant grief…grief about our potential not living up to how we see ourselves in our heads…grief that sooner or later we’re gonna die not having done what we want…grief that sooner or later, no matter WHAT we do, everyone and everything we love will turn to dust. 

I definitely feel like I’m beginning to grasp something deeper…and although it’s instilling more of a sense of “peace” I can’t help but be a little sad about it. Yet…I think I’m going in the right direction? I just keep trying to remember something else I learned in yoga…that we chose to incarnate in this exact lifetime at this time in history for a reason, and everything we go through is the exact thing our soul is yearning to learn. Regardless of how sad I feel, I still get the sense of being on the “right path,” and maybe that’s all that can bring us solace in this difficult human existence. 

Why I Went To Peru To Drink Ayahuasca

About a month ago my friend Amy and I returned from Dreamglade, an Ayahuasca retreat in the Peruvian Amazon. This is actually the post I wanted to start this blog with, but since we’ve come back, life jumped full force into the holidays, into my birthday, then back to work, so it’s been pretty rough to get my bearings. Not sure if I’d recommend planning an ayahuasca integration for such a busy time but…I honestly didn’t realize how difficult it would be to come back to “reality.”

Still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for any amount of money in the world. It was way more valuable than I could have ever imagined…

I first heard about ayahuasca about two years ago at a lunch with coworkers. We were all sharing our experiences with Psychadelics when one of the girls said something like “Have you guys heard about ayahuasca? A friend of a friend just did it and I heard it completely changed her personality. She quit her job and claims that she’s a healer now. Her husband doesn’t know what to do with her. It’s some crazy shit.”

I was immediately intrigued but she didn’t know much more than that, so I got back to my desk and launched into a full force investigation about ayahuasca, watching every documentary and testimonial I could find. A sacred jungle plant medicine that has the ability to rewire your brain, cure anxiety, depression, and addictive behavior? YEAH SIGN ME UP!

I’m not going to go too much into the details of what exactly ayahuasca is, aside from that the brew is a mix of the ayahuasca vine (“Vine of the Soul” or “Vine of the Dead”) and this plant called “chacruna” which, when combined, activates DMT and allows you to go on a spirit quest with this “entity” or “goddess”… Mother Ayahuasca (Mother Nature). She gives you some pretty tough love, making you physically purge what is no longer serving you to make room for something better. Your “inner darkness” if you will… repressed memories, shit you hate about yourself… that kinda thing. Only then will you be rewarded with something good. At least in my experience 🙂

Here’s one of my favorite videos about Ayahuasca from Your Mate Tom, which happens to also be shot at Dreamglade. It’s where I first heard of it actually, so thanks Tom! He gives a really good intro into what Ayahuasca is, and his experience is really interesting.

And here’s a documentary that I highly recommended about the scientific benefits of ayahuasca and how it actually affects your brain. Basically what western medicine doesn’t want you to know 😉

Anyway, the reason I was so attracted to ayahuasca is because I had been depressed for my entire adult life and wasn’t really sure why. When I started dating Eddy (now my husband) about 5 years ago, he basically taught me how to communicate and a lot of repressed emotions came to the surface. Prior to that, I never really knew how to express what I was feeling or look deep within myself to question my actions, or values even. I was going through life blindly and felt broken without knowing why, and when Eddy made me start talking about my past it was like opening a Pandora’s Box of pain. For the sake of this post not turning into a novel, I’m going to let most of this unfold in my ceremony explanations and instead offer up an easy bulleted list of reasons why I decided to book that ticket to Iquitos.

  • My dad died 3 years ago and I felt like I was still holding onto grief that was preventing me from moving on in my life, so I wanted to somehow reconcile with that. I actually specifically booked the retreat so my final ceremony was on his death anniversary, December 14
  • I was diagnosed as bipolar in April of this year, tried going on meds and hated it, so I was looking for a way to naturally learn to balance my extreme highs and lows
  • During a manic period in my early 20s when I was trying hard to “make it” in the animation industry in Los Angeles, I barely got any sleep, partied all the time and made a lot of “surface friends,” but the lack of meaningful relationships and the exhaustion of being out all the time led to the worst crash of my life, where I isolated myself from the world and was never able to recover. Depression hit me like a brick in the face and got worse and worse to the point of completely forgetting myself and what it even meant to feel joy. I would jump from empty high to empty high to feel “happiness” but nothing ever felt real, which left me constantly wanting to kill myself
  • Anxiety that got so bad I couldn’t leave my desk at work and led to a phobia of people that I had no reason to be afraid of
  • I got married in August and my poor husband Eddy has been so patient with me this entire time but started to express that he didn’t know how much more of my behavior he could take. I finally saw how my mania, depression and anxiety had affected HIM for years and I was so self involved I didn’t even realize it, and it disgusted me. I knew that if we ever wanted to have kids (which we do), I had to do something serious about myself, especially because I was so often suicidal and had a huge fear of doing it someday soon.
  • I just turned 30 on January 6 and was just SO SICK of being ME I knew I had to resort to something drastic to finally start moving forward in my life. It was the best birthday present I could’ve ever gifted to myself 🙂 Perfect timing!
  • The idea of traveling to the Amazon to participate in a shamanic ceremony where you drink an ancient jungle brew that allows you to walk with gods is just too much for my adventurous spirit…something I never could have anticipated checking off a bucket list 🙂

In my opinion, the more you can mentally prepare for this the better. I had done so much work trying to figure out what was wrong with me I just could NOT move forward, no matter how hard I tried. This was literally a “last resort” type deal, which is really sad considering I have a loving husband, dog, and awesome community of friends. I was just mentally in such a dark place for so long that I knew everything I SHOULD be doing to function in life, but couldn’t make myself do it, or feel it, and that numbness is a dangerous place to be. At one point I came across something that said if you make the decision to do ayahuasca, you have to be ready to die, and I couldn’t agree more.

How Do You Reconcile The Duality of the Soul?

“We are each of us a wise guru in charge of a mental patient” – Jamie Catto

I’m not sure what to do right now… I feel very sick. It reminds me of being in the maloka listening to people retch and purge around me, except now I’m just so crushingly alone. On Christmas Fucking Eve.

And is being alone really so bad? (Also I know I’m not actually alone…just being a drama queen)

I mean I just snapped at Eddy when he asked me what I wanted to do for Christmas. “I WANNA BE FUCKING ALONE.” But do I? He looked so hurt when I said that and it made me feel awful. I’m such a walking contradiction that can never figure anything out… WHY DO I HAVE TO FEEL THIS DUALITY OF EXISTENCE SO. FUCKING. HARD??? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT I FUCKING WANT??!?!

I want to be alone, but at the same time I NEED people. NEED people to the point of fucking EMBARRASSMENT. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO DEPENDENT ON PEOPLE ELORA. DON’T YOU WANT TO BE ALONE?! DON’T YOU WANT TO JUST GO LIVE OUT IN THE JUNGLE SOMEWHERE AND LEARN TO FEND FOR YOURSELF?!?! No you don’t because you’re so fucking dependent on people for your happiness and you NEED someone to talk to, don’t you?

HOLIDAYS ARE SO MUCH PRESSURE!!!! I FEEL SO MUCH PRESSURE TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO PEOPLE AND GO SEE PEOPLE LIKE… WTF WHY CAN’T I JUST BE ALONE AND NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANY OF THIS??!?! WHY DO I HAVE TO FEEL LIKE CONSTANTLY PERFORMING FOR PEOPLE?!?! ALSO IF I LOVE THEM, WHY DO I FEEL THE PRESSURE IN THE FIRST PLACE? Why do I always feel like I OWE people everything? Why can’t we all just exist and I don’t have to feel GUILTY all the FUCKING time?!?!

I have a long ass list of things to do, but rather than doing them I get wrapped up in some fucking MELTDOWN and then the list gets longer and longer and longer and I feel like I’m DROWNING then just want to up and LEAVE IT ALL. But I’ve CHOSEN THIS LIFE and I know I would REGRET NOT DOING THESE THINGS and NO MATTER WHAT LIFE I CHOOSE I’ll still have to LIVE WITH THIS MONSTER INSIDE OF ME SO FUCK IT.

WHY DO I TAKE SO MANY PICTURES?!? Because I enjoy my experience so much and want to document them! But THEN WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM AFTERWARD!? NOTHING! SO NOW I FEEL SO MUCH PRESSURE TO GET THEM PRINTED AND PUT THEM IN ALBUMS AND GIVE THEM TO PEOPLE AS PRESENTS!! But it makes me PHYSICALLY ILL to think about organizing all these thousands of fucking things!!!

BECAUSE THE PRESSURE OF THE PICTURES AND GIFTS ARE ALWAYS ON MY MIND I CAN’T GET MYSELF TO DRAW!! When I sit to draw, all I think about is this LONG LIST OF SHIT I NEED TO DO! Currently, because it’s the end of the year and also Christmas, I KNOW I need to focus on the thank you cards and organizing photos to print for people but I have all this fucking pent up anger inside me that if I were to go and do those things right now, they wouldn’t come out right and I would just have ANOTHER MELTDOWN because I have all this HORRIBLE ENERGY I NEED TO GET RID OF FIRST.

Am I just DOOMED and CURSED to have too much EMOTIONAL BULLSHIT EVERY DAY OF MY FUCKING LIFE that I can’t even FOCUS ON ANYTHING REAL AND PRODUCTIVE?!?! Is whatever this energy is inside of me something that will ALWAYS CONTROL ME??? No matter what I do and what I try?! I KNOW I SHOULDN’T ALLOW IT TO HAVE POWER OVER ME BUT IT FUCKING DOES.

It’s so fucking painful to want SO BADLY to just BE CONTENT but constantly be torn in two completely opposite directions of WANTING TO DO and NOT WANTING TO DO, WANTING TO BE ALONE and WANTING TO LOVE, WANTING TO RUN and WANTING TO FIGHT. HOW DO I EXIST IN THIS REALITY?!?! AM I SUPPOSED TO JUST SPEND HOURS EACH DAY VOMITING OUT MY SHIT SO I CAN BE AT SOME BASE LEVEL WHERE I CAN FUNCTION!?!? WHAT EVEN IS THIS?!

WHAT THE FUCK DO I WANT REALLY???

Ha, yesterday Eddy mentioned that my mom had “done a number on me” with how I was raised. I guess I didn’t even realize till recently how insane I actually am, and how all these issues have manifested in ways that are so challenging I’m not even sure what to do with myself anymore.

I was diagnosed as bipolar this year, and when I went to do ayahuasca, I remember thinking “am I really bipolar?” I think these diagnoses really help us try to pin down what’s wrong with us based on certain traits we have. No matter what you call it… I think I’m starting to finally learn what I actually am. Or what about me at least got me the bipolar diagnosis. It’s amazing to think that people are constantly going to doctors about symptoms, but because they just want the pain to stop they take a pill and don’t do the work to actually try and get to know themselves.

I am so grateful to Ayahuasca for teaching me how to get to know myself, but at the same time… it’s really fucking scary to face… whatever this is I am. And SO fucking hard. “Bipolar” people are known to experience extreme highs and lows, and that’s definitely something I’ve always struggled with. Existing in the “gray area” between SUPER HIGH and SUPER LOW has always seemed impossible for me.. But it’s that “gray area” where life happens. I’m constantly guilty about not spending enough time with Eddy and our dog Han because I’m having a fucking breakdown… but I don’t know what else to do with this energy. Because if I DO go and spend that time… I feel guilty for not doing all these things I feel constant pressure to do! And then when I go and try and be rid of this energy by writing or whatever… I FEEL HORRIBLE THAT I’M NOT DOING THE OTHER THINGS!!!

This breathing technique that I recorded from Dreamglade is saving my life in the way that… I feel like I can get myself in a similar headspace as in ceremony, in order to work on things I need to work on, and even IDENTIFY things I need to work on. It’s so funny because I remember leaving the retreat feeling like I had all the tools I needed to succeed. They kept saying “the real work happens AFTER you take the ayahuasca and get back home” but I was in such a great place, like “psshhh I never need to go do Ayahuasca again! I’m completely healed!”

But that’s another one of those extremes talking. Each day I’ve been home… I see what they mean.

Doing the breathing exercise the past couple days, a LOT has come up… and I’ve become aware of JUST HOW MUCH WORK is to be done within myself… and it scares the shit out of me. There are so many layers to myself that I’m starting to become aware of and, like everything else in my life, it’s causing me overwhelm, but in a different way than having a long list of things to do.

I think actually, the overwhelm is what triggered this. Coming back to work I was all chill like “I don’t need to feel stress anymore because I completely trust myself to get everything done that I need to get done!!” But I barely got ANY work done during the week because I was TOO chill and now, along with the BILLION other things I need to do, I have to try and fit WORK on top of it during this holiday break so I can manage to meet my deadline in the first week of January.

I realize just how much I avoid things and procrastinate and let things PILE UP because I’m unable to focus on doing things when they’re SUPPOSED to be done…which I was aware of before, but I guess I was expecting myself to be able to handle it a bit better. I did just get my period so maybe I’m extra irrational because of hormones,  but I’m really trying hard to work through these things so I can at least be a bit productive.

That being said, today during breathing I immediately just burst into tears the WHOLE TIME, because I felt this INCREDIBLE POWER OF DUALITY BEING FORCED DOWN ON ME. Duality is something that Mother Aya makes you face in ceremony, but I have yet to even BEGIN to fathom how to use what I’ve learned in normal life.

BECAUSE the nature of ME is just SO FUCKING EXTREME. The duality within ME is SO HARD TO HANDLE. AND I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO START GOING ABOUT IT!

“Slow down, take your time”

“BREATHE”

“PATIENCE.”

Yeah yeah. All this shit that’s supposed to help me…YEAH I KNOW. WELL I DID JUST BREATHE AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

I felt this incredible power within me… almost like a monster. Well I DID call it a monster, but Mother Aya said I shouldn’t see it that way. That I should see it as a “power.” The first blog I made was called “Bipolar Beastie,” for good reason… I definitely always thought of the “bipolar” being a beast within me but… today was the first time I actually FELT it (which, although scary, was pretty nice. Another duality). Like something deep deep within my soul that needs to be tamed but is just… writhing around in there wreaking all sorts of havoc. And holy shit it made me NAUSEOUS to actually FEEL it. (This breathing exercise is powerful shit, I assure you.)

The word that kept coming up was “Hummingpup.” After I got back from the retreat, I wanted to create a new site focusing on healing, and about a year ago this “Hummingpup” kept coming up in my mind… I dunno why and part of me thought it sounded a bit dumb, but since I’ve gotten back this little voice kept saying I needed to actually use it for something.

It’s nice because today I just got some clarification on this, but it confused me even more. I definitely think the keyword in all of this is CONFUSION. And with such a lack of patience and conviction, I feel like I’m so shit outta luck in terms of knowing on to deal with all this chaos that keeps popping up in my head.

But anyway, Mother Aya explained to me what a “Hummingpup” is. THAT’S what the “monster” or “beastie” within me is. It’s like a hummingbird in the way that it moves SO PAINFULLY FAST because it thinks that’s the only way to survive. It’s so sad to me how hummingbirds can’t even SLEEP unless they go into a state of torpor, or “temporary hibernation.” It’s the only way for them to save their energy so they can GOGOGO again in the day… and it’s so fucking sad to me that this is basically the only way I’ve functioned too. It’s either I’m GOGOGOGO or in complete isolation (hibernation) where I can’t even bring myself to interact with anyone to conserve my energy for the next time I can GOGOGO again. Then it’s like a puppy in that it has ALL THIS CRAZY ENERGY THAT IT DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH and this lighthearted curiosity, innocence and love for the world… that’s kinda stamped out by the constant need for movement. It’s sad really 😦 All the “pup” wants to do is play, and all the “humming” wants to do is work… but there’s really no in between…at least none that I can currently see.

Eddy says I need to relax, and that he worries about my motivations for doing things because most of the time it seems like I’m doing something out of frustration. I’m not quite sure how to do something because I WANT to do it, if there’s always such a long list of things to do. I’ve been doing the grateful flow tool from the tools book as well… to try and help with this constant state of worry from the overwhelm, but even that didn’t help today. I KEPT DOING IT TOO and it didn’t really calm me down… only the breathing calmed me down because I was able to RELEASE and CRY but then… afterward I was a fucking wreck.

He says my comfort zone is wanting to GOGOGO… wanting to write and get out my energy, wanting to angrily clean or throw a tantrum… but how am I supposed to know when to RELEASE ENERGY or when to DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE with it? How am I supposed to adequately identify my comfort zones?  I’m not sure what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong… which way is the right way to go… how to actually move forward even though I’ve been doing the pain exercise from that book… I’m so constantly overwhelmed I can’t tell what’s what anymore, and again I feel so crippled by reality. Am I supposed to take time each day to expend this energy? Breathing, running, yoga, writing, talking? It takes me a long ass time to get my words out because I have so goddamn many of them… and then once I write I have to go talk to Eddy about it, and then I spend hours feeling sorry for myself and can’t concentrate on anything else…what is the proper approach here?

Hummingbirds are weak and fragile because they never stop flying, and pups have boundless energy and need to be trained to even start to focus. WHAT HOPE DO I HAVE OF A FOCUSED LIFE WHERE I CAN BE PRODUCTIVE AND ALSO EXHIBIT UNLIMITED LOVE TO EVERYTHING AROUND ME?! Do I need to start taking meds again?! Do I need to do more ayahuasca?! Do I need to run away and live in the jungle again but this time never leave!? How much work do I need to do on myself before I can ACTUALLY start moving forward!? UGH.

I feel as though… Mother Ayahuasca has opened a door within me that I’m both intrigued by and afraid of, and I’m not sure what to do with what’s coming out of it. It’s almost like opening a Pandora’s Box…There are so many layers and I’m not sure how to come to terms with that… Meanwhile time just keeps slipping away and I feel like my life is going to waste…

Crushed By Reality And It Hasn’t Even Been A Week

Type 7 Enneathought For The Day: Make this Affirmation today: “I now affirm that I stay with projects until I complete them.”

Well… my first severe low has already hit and it hasn’t even been a week. I can’t really tell how much of it is because of my period that started today, but regardless…it’s been pretty rough. I was only at Dreamglade for 8 days, but the serene atmosphere and highs I was able to achieve through social interaction and the ayahuasca made me feel like the lows would never come. Kinda like when me and Eddy were in Kauai for our honeymoon, he made sure to REMIND me that the lows would come again and even though I agreed at the time, when I returned to reality and they DID come, they hit me in the face like a brick so hard it was nearly impossible to recover.

During my research I had read that ayahuasca makes you have a higher “ceiling,” or emotional tolerance before you hit something like depression. I have a feeling that’s true, because the negative voice inside me is definitely not as strong, or rather it’s now constantly being combated by the positivity, support, and rationality of Mother Ayahuasca. However, I guess the easiest way to describe it is still with the bipolar diagnosis. My emotions are SO STRONG and overpowering, and they’re very difficult to tame, and I have difficulty existing in a gray area between the high and the low of my moods. It reminds me very much of Second Ceremony, when mama reminded me that these “extremes” exist, and no matter how great I’m feeling, darkness will always return and I have to learn how to deal with it in order to regain my power.

As grateful as I am for Ayahuasca’s ability to make you face this eternal struggle of duality, I’m bummed that it hasn’t really made things too much easier. This balance is so fucking hard, and it’s not even that bad. This is just normal life.

Yesterday I had so much fire with the idea for this Hummingpup Healing Project, and I’m definitely still excited and motivated for it, but fears and doubts set in so quickly… definitely more quickly than I was hoping. I got home from work and did my Ceremony 1 speed painting with gusto, then as soon as I attempted to draw something “real,” I settled into my comfort zone of planning blog posts and outlining what I was gonna write.

Erik’s words (from the retreat) came back to me: “You need to paint. You’re so good at expressing yourself with words, you need to start expressing yourself another way. I would love to see you paint.”

Thank you so much Erik…These words will seriously never leave me…along with “If you change one thing when you get back, make sure it’s your diet. It affects every other part of your life.”

I’m still shocked by how quickly and how close I got to the people at Dreamglade, not only the employees, but the guests as well… they’ve changed my life in a way that no one I’ve known even for years has, which speaks to how open and vulnerable we really were over there. I can’t believe how much I’m still processing, not only how much my mind has shifted from the experience, but also how DIFFERENT I was while I was there. I think a huge part of it is just that opportunity to detox from the overstimuli of the modern world. I wonder if this is what it’s like when people go to rehab then come back to this reality? It’s a whole different game… and it really sucks 😦

ANYWAY.

When Erik’s words popped into my head, THAT’S when I realized I was wallowing smack dab in my comfort zone of planning and writing. The fear of facing myself with my art hit me so hard I had to go to sleep because I just… could NOT do anymore work on Hummingpup after realizing just how much of an “art phobia” I’ve built up over the years. It made me nauseous. Being so afraid for so long has built up this huge expectation for something great to happen when I go to put pencil/pen/whatever to paper. But WHY should it even be great? Like Mother Ayahuasca says “You’re a newborn. You have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can draw.” OBVIOUSLY. It’s so strange how I’ve been able to learn how to work through the physical pain of kambo, sananga, and sickness/purging during ayahuasca, but I keep avoiding the emotional pain of facing how behind I am with my art skills. Even the forward motion pain tool isn’t helping right now! UGH!

So during my breathing exercise this morning, I focused on my feelings of overwhelm as I called out for help. I was immediately flooded with all these familiar thoughts I hadn’t experienced while I was away, and I just could NOT stop crying.

“You suck, you’re already falling behind.”

“Why are you always so behind?”

“You’re such a failure.”

“You’re horrible, why even try?”

Except this time, rather than having to deal with these alone, Mother Ayahuasca came to my aid. So quickly did I feel her embrace that I cried even harder.

“Why do you feel the need to rush, my child? Slow down, give yourself time. Remember what I taught you…

LISTEN

FOCUS

PATIENCE

You’re not taking the time to listen… if you don’t listen, you can’t focus. Listen to yourself. Be patient with yourself. You have so much beauty within you waiting to be released.

SURRENDER TO THE PAIN.

She took my hands just as Raul did in ceremony, as if to say “I accept you, sweetheart. This is what it means to be human. Now learn to accept yourself.”

So much love and compassion in that gentle motion… It’s strange how quickly our human minds forget. I’m starting to understand why Ayahuasca is so powerful.

I took a mapacho break with Amy today and it’s funny because it was rough for her too. She was actually the first to say it this morning when we dropped off her Christmas present. “Uggghhh this is the first day I’m feeling a real low.” It was nice to hear that both of us are struggling with translating Mother Ayahuasca’s lessons in this reality. I suppose it should be an interesting and fun challenge, but because it hit us so hard today it’s really just frustrating. You’d think that undergoing these ultimate tests of “letting go” and “not having expectations” would teach us how to apply the same ideas to everyday challenges but… surprisingly not. I’m realizing now just how conscious and aware we have to be of these things. Time to reread that Tools book already 😐

What’s so great about Ayahuasca though is that not only are you under her influence for hours during ceremony, but the experiences are so intense and a lot of the time, her message is repeatedly harped at you because you keep trying so hard to understand. During my Third Ceremony death experience, my mind kept going to the same places — “Why can’t I see? I can’t move my head, I can’t open my eyes. I don’t understand what’s going on. Where am I? Am I missing something? Why can’t I move my body?”

Strangely enough, even though I knew I was going through an insanely profound death experience, it felt like it lasted an eternity and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was missing out on something. Not having a body for hours was so strange, and the fact that I could hear people around me in the physical world still bothered me because I couldn’t help wanting to know what they were doing, or participate in that world because I felt left out.

But Mother Ayahuasca kept saying the same things: LISTEN, FOCUS, PATIENCE and RESPECT. I also will never forget her giggling and saying “Oh I turned your body off, you don’t need it. Just listen to Raul and Lydia. You don’t need to see, you don’t need to understand. That will come with time.”

But again, because this lasted for an eternity, the same shit kept coming up again, and again and again… I wonder how many times she told me the same things. Hundreds? Thousands? That’s what it felt like. So it’s amazing to me now that my negativity has returned, how clear these lessons still are in my head. Rather than choosing to wallow and cry and just go to sleep… I forced myself to write this out and try to process further, because I’m realizing now that these days post retreat are SOOOO crucial to building the habits that I want to build.

Despite the negative thoughts being back, I do feel a renewed sense of motivation. Even though I couldn’t help feeling sorry for myself today, I’m fighting hard to pull myself out of it because Mother Ayahuasca is with me… and I very much feel like she won’t let me spiral into that dark hole again. At least not as easily as I used to. When I draw, I can’t even say “GO KILL YOURSELF” anymore because I’ve already died. So that’s at least something I need to be proud of. As unsettling as it is that these feelings have returned, I can still feel that everything is different now.

A permanent shift has occurred, and I’m not going back.

Day 15: Lion King Changed My Life Pt 2

“Ah, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it…or learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King

Woke up this morning and finished Lion King… it’s funny how my un-high mind has a hard time communicating thoughts in a stream of consciousness way. This was so much easier last night! My sober mind was still JUST as affected by this movie though… it’s SUCH a beautiful thing when something can be so relatable and touch your heart in a way that makes you want to be a better person.

Eddy always talks about how similar I am to Simba in terms of wanting to run away from all my problems. Really… Hakuna Matata is SO GREAT. Simba was in really bad shape when he was chased away from Pride Rock, and he would totally have been dead if Timon and Pumbaa didn’t find him. Timon says to Simba “You gotta put your past behind ya. Look kid, bad things happen and you can’t do anything about it. When the world turns the back on you, you turn your back on the world.”

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Simba does eventually learn to put the past behind him, but he needed this period of isolation and “turning his back on the world” to subconsciously rack up the courage to do so. There’s no WAY he could’ve survived to take on Scar without living the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle first. He needed to HEAL dammit!! And it’s really nice to remember that! ;_;

Gosh what I would GIVE to live that kinda life… I don’t think I’d even mind eating bugs! Living peacefully out in the woods, looking up at the stars at night, not having any worries or problems… really sounds like the way to go. It’s the way of the shaman! I’m so annoying to Eddy by this point how when I get into my horrible moods I immediately jump to running away, faking my death, and living on an island somewhere. He never entertains these thoughts, but I constantly bring them up anyway because when I’m in a bad place, it’s definitely the easiest solution to turn to.

However what Lion King reminds me of is that can only last so long… Eddy always brings it up too. He KNOWS that over time I would get restless living that kinda life, because I’m meant for greater things. Well… not so much that second part. He urges me to just live in the moment because this is it. The moment that we’re living right now, THIS is life. Even if I were to escape, my “grass is greener” mentality still wouldn’t let me be happy. I need to change that whole outlook first, and I think slowly it’s finally starting to happen 🙂

Lion King is great because, even though we’re not all royalty, meant to grow into a role of king or queen, it suggests that we have to learn to put the past behind us and embrace what’s happening in our current life. We can’t just run away forever, and we have to look within us to remember where we’re from, and who we are.

Especially now after losing my dad, I feel like I’ve become a completely different person. I’m starting to care about real shit, rather than focusing on my internal stress and worry all the time. I would go so far as to say… going through my dad’s death forced me on the path of “growing up,” something that I was fighting for so long because my mom always tried to force me to grow up and I naturally rebelled. It’s interesting how in all these Disney movies, or in tons of movies in general, the parents or someone important to the main character dies. In so many things, even Magic The Gathering, the “spark” within is ignited by a traumatic event, waking up the person to become a Planeswalker.

It’s easy to become complacent, but certain events in our life are a “call to action” and we have to make a choice to become who we’re meant to be or stay stagnant. Watching Mufasa come out of the clouds to remind Simba who he really is… that’s some powerful shit. It’s so dumb but I can almost see my own dad coming out of the clouds to remind me to embrace this life I was given and really go for it. Not like I’m a king or anything, but there’s so much I wanna do with this life I was given that I’ve chosen to neglect because of the stupid past. Hearing Mufasa’s booming voice say “Remember who you are” is that call to action I needed… and it’s nice to know that if I’m ever feeling down or that feeling of stagnation to just watch The Lion King. I’ve always loved this movie but, I think more than any other Disney movie, the meaning has changed so much for me in my adult life that it can be a powerful tool for kicking my ass out of depressive episodes.

It’s so easy to let the past rule our lives and mess up what we SHOULD be paying attention to, so much so that it cripples us to actually LIVE. The Lion King is a great reminder that we need to have the courage to take responsibility over who we are and who we’re meant to be, because it affects those around us. As much as I love Moana because it helped me cope with my dad’s death when it was still VERY fresh, I think Lion King deals with similar themes even better than Moana, in a deeper more adult fashion. There’s so much death and darkness in it, but that’s fucking life.

Lol Black Panther dealt with similar themes too, in such a similar fashion. Man life is hard and responsibility sucks, but it’s just a part of it. Sigh. Gotta work harder. Thank goodness I’m not some secret royalty… seems like that would make it even worse haha! I’m grateful for my life, and also for having the dad that I had…I can’t take that for granted. Something I need to remember moving forward.

Day 10: The Past is Always Bittersweet

“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” -Joseph Campbell

It’s been pretty good lately! Also busy. I feel like I’m always in some sort of transition period but… when I think about it, aren’t we all? Like, ALL the TIME? It’s pretty easy to get our ass handed to us by life, and I guess it’s not typical to just be super content and satisfied. As far as I can tell, everyone always is dealing with some kinda shit. I really do feel though that transitioning HAS been my main focus lately. Maybe it always was?

Anywho. Yesterday Eddy started work so we have to SERIOUSLY learn to stagger our schedules so that Han isn’t alone for too long. That means that if I have anything planned after work, I have to leave super early to get there on time. It’s amazing how little time there is after work, especially if you’re someone who gets up really early, like I’m trying to be. Sorry it’s just NOT THAT EASY TO GET TO BED BY 9PM.

Yesterday I saw my psychiatrist who I ended up lying to that I’m still on meds 😐 At least I have a new prescription in case something WERE to happen and I really needed them. I explained to her that I hated being on the meds because I never felt the same joy like I used to, and needed to constantly be high in order to feel anything really. I didn’t like that she told me to stop smoking weed, but when you think about it, psychiatrist and doctors, anyone who prescribes pharmaceutical meds really, of COURSE wouldn’t like weed cuz it’d be taking away their business! But in any case, as long as I’m not on my meds I feel fine and don’t need to be high all the time to get through my day.

Something she DID say though that was useful, is that rather than use weed to make me feel joy, I should try to do things that are fun and not “SECRET CHORES.” No one has ever told me that before… SECRET CHORES. I told her “oh yeah I’m getting back into meditation and yoga and that’s been fun” and she’s like “well those are still self care things to do… find something that’s not a secret chore.”

Dude she is SO RIGHT! Gonna make more time to have actual fun in the near future. It kinda sucks because I’m trying to do so much now… Oh gosh should I try to list what I’m attempting right now?  Maybe that would be healthy, who knows.

  1. Transitioning off my meds and learning to control the depression and mania on my own.
  2. Transitioning into dealing with my bipolar diagnosis in general.
  3. Waking up at 5am to walk Han, leave for work by 7, and leave work to come back home by 4pm.
  4. Eating a healthier mostly plant based diet.
  5. Getting in a consistent workout schedule, running MWF, weight training TTH, yoga daily.
  6. Working with April to create wooden signs for my wedding.
  7. Centerpiece art for wedding, trying to get them printed in time so I can ask for help to get them painted around Friday. Need to test how different paints will work on the transparencies before then.
  8. Video for the wedding
  9. Attempting to do personal doodles to at least work out these thoughts I’ve been having lately
  10. Trying to find someone for Han to stay when we get married, which involves multiple meet and greets
  11. Communicating with a hula instructor
  12. Trying to get to sleep by 9pm

It’s actually not as bad as I thought, because in my head I recognized that there are actually more things to DO, but I didn’t list them because they’re not my current priority and I need to finish these things before I even START thinking about those things. That’s progress, right?

Today I was talking to Bre about art… and art has been a sore subject for me for a while. I’ve been depressed about it for probably like 10 years now, but I finally feel like I’m making some mental progress in the art field. Today though talking to Bre a little bit of the bad feelings slipped through again and I think I need to talk about it.

Almost 3 years ago I made the conscious decision to fully disappear from all Social Media. I had tried multiple times before but kept going back, but it was my dad’s death that made me stay off facebook because man… I had a lot to work on. Looking back, the person I was before my dad’s death seems sorta… unrecognizable to me. In a good way though. I’m learning to look back and not hate the me I used to be, but rather try and focus on the progress I’ve made along the way. And also be really happy that I’m not like that anymore.

Bre’s been sending me those talks between Dave Rapoza and Dan Warren, which are FANTASTIC. It’s really nice that they talk about real shit on there… it’s super relatable and man… totally sounds like what I’ve been going through for years. Bre told me that she wants to start trying to incorporate story into her art, and how she really wants to learn to gain more happiness from her art and share it with more people. She’s already such a fantastic artist, and I guess I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy when she said that. Then I was like… wtf why do I feel JEALOUS. i should be happy for Bre because she’s really starting to come into her own and get into a rhythm blahdeeblahblah. And I AM happy for her, because I know she struggles with a lot of the same shit that I do… and maybe for that reason I can’t help but feel a bit bitter.

Months ago these feelings would have been WAY WORSE mind you. Something I just realized. What I just felt while writing the word “bitter” is only a sliver of how upset and jealous I used to get… which is a really good thing. I’m so happy to have recognized that progress 😀 And I think the reason why is because I know that EVENTUALLY I’ll get to that point where I can vomit out art and actually express how I feel, but for some reason something is still holding me back. And THAT’S where the bitterness comes from. I know that Bre spends a lot of time painting, and I think the jealousy also comes from knowing that she has time to do it. I mean… no one’s really got time, you have to make time, but I can’t help feeling a little bit stuck because of the wedding (again, ANOTHER feeling that ruled my life a couple months ago).

I’m feeling really RESTLESS, and I’m trying to tell myself “just a little more just a little more you’re almost done with the wedding” but at the same time I’m like “pssshhh whatever you can MAKE time even WITH the wedding” and then ALSO at the same time “BUT IF YOU DO THAT YOU’RE GONNA BE OVERLOADING YOURSELF AND SPIRAL INTO DARKNESS AGAIN NO DON’T DO IT”

Today I was telling Bre that I used to get on my ass so much about having wasted time, or regretting my past. But now I can tell I’m in a better place because I can see that as much as I feel that way, what I did in the past shaped who I am now. Listening to Dave talk about his past is also validation in a way. Today he was talking about working professionally and how over time you get used to it, care less and get more comfortable, which is totally the stage I’m in now. They were talking about how of course it would be impossible to balance your time when you’re still in that stage of getting used to working in the industry, and people should know to be a little easy on themselves during their early 20s/while they’re in that phase, because it’s almost EXPECTED of you to be shitty then. Because I’m now starting to feel that separation between personal/work life (partially due to the forceful influence of the wedding but also because I’m getting used to being at WB) I can relate to what he’s saying, but I’m still not at the point where I can feel ok about my art.

These conversations between Dave and Dan are great, but I can’t help thinking like… they’re already great artists though. They’re just looking back on their journey but… they’ve been able to achieve way more than I have artwise, and developed skills that I can’t really hope to develop now especially because I want kids. Yeah I related to what they were saying, but I guess maybe I’m not ready to listen to artists yet. To venture into that art world just yet. That part of me still exists where I can’t help but compare myself to their achievements, and although I told Bre that I can look back and not feel like I wasted time… I still feel BAD about it. Looking back, my early 20s seems like some VOID OF TIME that I can’t even REMEMBER. Like WTF WAS I DOING THAT WHOLE TIME!? I guess it was a whole lot of partying, going to gallery shows, meeting people, drinking, taking classes, and going to the Magic Castle. But I really hate that… I dunno I guess I can’t even remember gleaning much wisdom or knowledge from that time. When i get home from work, Han is spastic… just rushing at me with all this energy. Looking back I feel like I was more like that… just kinda LIVING and not really… soaking anything important in. :\ I am so glad I met Eddy and started on this path because… as jealous as I am of dogs just living, I see now (that I just wrote this) that eventually that type of “only living in the moment” lifestyle can only lead to depression. Come to think of it, I think I was probably manic for most of that… how else would I be able to do so much, drive from orange county to LA all the time, and still work, do homework and hang out with my bf? Ugh geez… no wonder I crashed into such a hard and long depression. Seriously until I started taking the Latuda and stopped feeling the symptoms of depression, I don’t think I even understood how BAD the depression was. I had already accepted it as a state of living, and couldn’t remember functioning any other way. Probably lasted around 7-8 years of being full on in it.

I’m so grateful for where I’m at right now.

That being said, back to art. Especially after realizing that about depression… I guess I should be easy on myself (like Dave said) because I had this mental illness the whole time that I didn’t realize that I had, and RECOGNIZE that I couldn’t have possibly achieved balance with art because I was unconsciously dealing with that. I’m still jealous though that some people are able to work THROUGH their depression and create something great. I never learned how to express myself through art, because I was so focused on getting a job in animation that I just tried (and failed) to make things pretty or fit in to the animation standard. I guess it worked ok since I’m now actually working at a union studio thank god, but I really do feel like most people I know have drawn so much more than I ever have in my entire life. I was just so goddamn distracted all the time, first by people, then by my depression, that I wasn’t ever really able to attain a strong skillset like basically EVERYONE I know. And now that I’m already at this stage in life where I’m getting married and planning to have kids, it makes me sad knowing that I (see I wanna use the word WASTED here) use up all my best years of exploration and experimentation on shallow pursuits that ultimately mean NOTHING now.

But UGH ELORA. REMEMBER THAT ALL OF THAT WAS LEADING YOU HERE. I guess that’s not so bad. Through that butterly effect/6 degrees of separation thing I suppose everyone in my life now who I love is a result of all that past I’ve lived, and I need to just learn to own it and get over it.

UGH WITH ART THOUGH!!! I can’t GET OVER that I wasn’t able to express going through my darkest times with ART. I LOVE how you can see artists progress over time, change styles, deal with various issues… like someone’s story is shown THROUGH THEIR ART. There’s such a huge chunk of STORY in my life that I WISH i could show through art… but backtracking now just wouldn’t be the same. I feel like this will always be one of my regrets… but I need to learn to get over it someday. I don’t WANT it to be a regret.

Maybe I need to stop wanting to ARCHIVE EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME while I’m at not making that a regret. I fucking HATE that human need to archive everything because we’re fucking MORTALS. I take a gazillionbillion photos and never even DO ANYTHING WITH THEM and all it does is create some dumb pressure that I need to do something with them eventually but it all just ends up piling up and up and up and…. that’s what I’m doing with my art too. I keep writing down little notes everywhere, on post its, etc… but gosh when I look back on them to finally do something with it, I feel like that moment has passed and the magic is gone.

Just like this page of shit I wrote when I was driving super high to Karen’s house and attempting to scribble down my thoughts… I remember feeling SOOOO great like “I JUST WANNA DRAW RIGHT NOW I WISH I WASN’T DRIVING. AWWWW IT’S OK ILL JUST DO IT LATER” but then I NEVER FUCKING DID IT and now… geez just LOOK at this page. SO UNINTELLIGIBLE I CAN BARELY EVEN MAKE OUT WHAT I WROTE! Such a bummer man.

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HOW DOES ANYONE DEAL WITH ALL THESE THOUGHTS?!?!! Mortality is so goddamn fleeting I wish we were just given a fucking manual sometimes and been told what to look out for and when so we don’t feel like such failures or always wanna kill ourselves >:0

It’s ok. I’m learning how to be positive. I swear. 😐