Going to The ER For Tardive Dyskinesia – Off Meds Again

Last week on July 15 (wow it was only last week?! Feels like an eternity…) I went to the ER for what I THOUGHT was a panic attack, but it turns out was actually a really messed up side effect of the meds (Latuda 60mg) that I was on. Been off it since, and feeling pretty good! Today is my first mild depressive episode but it’s not so bad 🙂

Anyway, this is what happened. Around 9pm on July 15 I took the Latuda and almost immediately felt like something had shifted within me — it came with dizziness and blurred vision. About a week leading up to this, I’d felt pretty off when I took the meds, but brushed it off as drowsiness that was common with the Latuda and would just immediately go to sleep.

I tried doing the same that night, but when I lay down, I could tell something was very wrong. I can’t really explain it but my perception had totally shifted and I felt like I was in a void. The shadows in the room looked off in a strange way which freaked me out, I didn’t feel comfortable breathing to calm myself down, and the worst part about it was that MY EYELIDS HAD STARTED SHAKING and just wouldn’t stop, making sleep (and even meditation) impossible. I lay there trying to calm myself down for about an hour, hoping the eyelid shake would go away, hoping I would drift off to sleep somehow, but then my arms and legs started to shake too and I was WAY too uncomfortable. My thought patterns were off too… I wondered if it was anxiety but my mind was like void of thoughts…I was freaking out but felt it in my BODY…hard to describe, but I was scared. I wondered if I was having a psychotic episode. I wondered if I would be like this forever. I wondered if I would die.

Finally I decided to get up and tell Eddy about it, and he immediately thought it was an anxiety attack. When I tried to talk to him I realized I couldn’t speak correctly, and it was hard to walk because everything was shaking and I felt so restless. I told him it might be a side effect of the medication, and he helped me induce vomiting to try and get the medicine out of my system. When I didn’t feel better afterwards, I agreed with him that it must be anxiety, and he tried putting a movie on to calm me down. It was impossible to focus my eyes on anything though, and the “void” feeling within me was so disconcerting I couldn’t help feeling hopeless.

After about 3 hours of Eddy trying to calm me down, me going back and forth from trying to throw up, to my room to try and sleep, and back out to just be around Eddy because I was so upset, nothing got better. It was like a bad trip, but WORSE because I HONESTLY DIDN’T KNOW IF IT WOULD EVER END. Trips have arcs, but this was just the SAME for HOURS. Eventually I said we needed to go to the ER because I knew I needed to go to sleep and as long as my eyes and body were shaking I wouldn’t be able to.

The ER of course had no idea what was wrong with me, but wrote it off as anxiety and after X-Raying my chest and testing my heart with everything normal, they gave me an Atavan to sedate me THANK GOD. It was torture going to the ER with COVID going on right now, and having to wait while my whole body was shaking and I was in a strange pulsating blurry void. Thankfully it worked and I was able to go to sleep. I still felt a little weird the next day and for the next couple days, but I had mostly reset.

This whole experience was probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever gone through, because somewhere deep in my heart I felt like it was never going to end. Even though Eddy and the ER said it was anxiety, I also somehow knew that it was most likely the meds. I immediately got off of them because I was so afraid of it happening again, but also avoided looking up side effects because I was so shaken… A couple days later when I thought about going on my meds again and finally looked it up.

“High doses or long-term use of lurasidone (Latuda) can cause a serious movement disorder that may not be reversible. Symptoms of this disorder include uncontrollable muscle movements of your lips, tongue, eyes, face, arms, or legs. The longer you take lurasidone, the more likely you are to develop a serious movement disorder.”

I saw this and got SO UPSET. “A serious movement disorder that may not be reversible”?!?! So I COULD’VE TOTALLY BEEN STUCK THAT WAY!! Upon looking into it further, I found out that antipsychotics cause this condition called “tardive dyskinesia” which causes involuntary movements in your body…EXACTLY what I was experiencing. When I talked to my psychiatrist, she said it used to be more common with older antipsychotics and it’s rarer with Latuda because it’s newer. So that’s why she didn’t TELL ME?! There’s a huge problem when this has been a common occurrence with this medicine which I read, tends to happen typically after being on it for 3 months.

Why, after 3 months, does it become more common to develop tardive dyskinesia?! THIS SHIT IS SOOOO DANGEROUS!! I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAS EVEN TAKING IT!! If I had been on that medication longer (this was the first time I had stuck with it consistently for 5 months), it more likely WOULD’VE been permanent! The thought of being STUCK that way is completely TERRIFYING!! I’m so grateful it happened to me early on, almost as if to say “get off this shit, it’s BAD for you.”

NO ONE SHOULD TAKE LATUDA. IT IS DANGEROUS.

But I suppose any pharmaceutical drugs are dangerous…which is why these side effects even exist. It’s so sad that we live in a world we do many people have to take these dangerous things, in many cases having to actually LIVE with these horrible side effects in order to control their mind. It pisses me off really… this MODERN WORLD. So many people are suffering!!

I used to think I was invincible, that side effects would never happen to me. Which is partly why I didn’t really take them seriously. Yes I looked up the side effects when I started Latuda, but didn’t think much of them because I figured they wouldn’t affect me. I was wrong. And I’ve learned an important lesson. Even looking at the rest of the side effects…that night I experienced so many of them:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • shaking
  • muscle stiffness
  • mask-like facial expression
  • inability to keep still
  • restlessness
  • agitation
  • blurred vision
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, sweating, confusion, tremors, feeling like you might pass out, or
  • twitching or uncontrollable movements of your eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms, or legs

NEVER AGAIN.

After I spoke to my psychiatrist about this she prescribed me Lamictal, but honestly I don’t want to be on meds anymore. Yes my depression and suicidal ideation can get pretty bad and I can have rapid cycling mood swings. Although it’s hard to deal with, I feel like it’s not NECESSARY for me to be on meds…especially because now I’m just so damn scared of them.

This trip to the ER dramatically shifted something in me. It felt like a sign of a death that needed to happen. Originally Eddy was telling me he thought it was anxiety because there was so much going on in my life.

I finished my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training program online last month, and because I was having a hard time balancing working from home in quarantine, and because I had taken on 2 life coaching clients and wanted to focus on art and my comic, I had decided I no longer wanted to certify to become a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. However, I did so well in my practicum during our last session that Jen told me to reconsider certifying. I did for a moment, but backed out again when we were supposed to pick our time slots, and this time Mary tried convincing me to do it. At this point I could tell maybe this was just an old pattern of me trying to run away out of fear and avoidance, and since I had been doing this program for 10 months, sure I might as well do it.

But agreeing to design 6 classes to get up and teach sent me into manic “final exam” mode, and not only that I got way too excited about trying to launch my brand/healing program “Hasthira” with the onset of my classes. This meant me trying to get a flyer done along with a website, of which I had none of the art I wanted to do completed. I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself, the pressure I was putting on myself…that was all just coming from me. I succumbed to really unhealthy habits of trying to do way too much, so really this incident seemed like it was trying to also teach me to learn how to chill out, rest and take care of myself. Before I found out about tardive dyskinesia, I was even wondering if it was a cause of the meds suppressing my mania that was activated by all the work I had to do. But now I see that…yeah maybe this all happened as a sign from the universe to A) Stop pressuring myself so much and B) Get off the meds.

When I recounted all of this to yoga mama Jen at our sound lesson last Sunday, she gave me a wonderful exercise about dealing with pressure. She told me to get all of that pressure out on paper, and have that physical representation of it so that whenever I feel the pressure, to look at that paper and know it’s THERE, not inside me — to separate myself from it in that way. I haven’t done it yet because breaking down to Jen really felt like the release I needed to get rid of it, at least in that moment.

Jen also told me that she helps people get off their meds, and that if I really wanna get off, I need to become really aware of all my mood changes and behaviors, to know how to handle them when they come up. She also told me I need to really watch my diet, because bad food like junk and fast food will flare up the mood shifts, so she suggested doing her 40 Days To Optimal Program for the second time, which I AM doing. She also said if it gets bad again, she has supplements to give me that she thinks might help. It was so amazing to get this type of support…and I feel really good about doing this.

I started this blog because I didn’t want to be on meds, and I wanted to become more aware of my moods, to do just what Jen was talking about. So much has happened since then, and this Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training program has really changed my life in ways I could’ve never expected. It’s shown me how important Kundalini Yoga is in my life — how it has helped me reconnect to myself and find a middle ground and stillness within me that I never thought was possible. If I’m vigilant about my practice, no matter what mood I’m in…I know I’ll be ok. The program has also shown me the importance of community, and what a great community even looks like. Through The Yogi Tree I’ve found my tribe — Jen has really cultivated a beautiful safe space where it’s okay to be vulnerable, where you can experience the waves of life and express them and be loved and accepted for it…having a space like that has truly changed my life, and I wish everyone could experience something similar, especially those struggling with mental health.

This post is already a novel,but again this was long overdue. I’m so grateful for this quarantine space to do the work I’m doing, and so grateful that I am still alive and well after such a terrifying incident. Upon reading reviews of Latuda, I’ve found tons of similar accounts, and my heart goes out to everyone suffering from these horrific side effects just to try and get by in this world. Really hoping these alternatives I’ve found work for me in the long run…gonna make a deeper effort than I ever have.

Side note: I taught my first Kundalini Yoga class yesterday for certification! 5 more to go!! 😀 I was so manic trying to prepare and write the series, and it was such a high to finish teaching my first one that today I’m experiencing a crash from it…but it’s not so bad. Just gonna try and take it easy, which is hard for me to do. But I’m determined to learn how to relax! Survival depends on it!

Anyway, here’s the flyer with details for my online Kundalini classes, just in case you’re interested! I live in Southern California so the time zone is PST!

62 Minute Sat Kriya Meditation Experience…Turning Into A Tree

Last night during Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training we had to do a 62 minute version of the Sat Kriya meditation, which you can find HERE if interested. It happened to be one of the most powerful experiences of my life, even up there with taking Ayahuasca, kambo and mushrooms.

First of all, to stay in this position for 62 minutes is asking your body to do something it REALLY doesn’t wanna do. And when you’re in this highly meditative state, you start to become aware of EVERYTHING. At least I did.

I kept thinking of something my friend Carey said in a recent women’s group, that when she birthed her daughter it was an amazing experience because she became a true observer, and she said she was able to just witness the PROCESS and stay separate from it, watching as her body wrung out this baby. As someone who really wants to experience childbirth someday, I knew that I’d have to get through this experience and practice getting into this “observer” mode.

When we began, my nose and eye were already itchy, but I remembered what I read about Vipassana silent retreats and how when you’re sitting in meditation for such a long time, you start to notice that sensations come and go. So I decided to watch these sensations come and go and started getting really curious and interested to see what sensation would come next. I noticed how my fingers would ever so slightly take turns leaning on each other to alleviate tension in my shoulders. I noticed how shifting slightly in my legs would create a variety of sharp sensations that would shoot through my feet and ankles and result in numbness. At first it was really quite beautiful to experience the cycle of bodily sensations and truly feel the temporary nature of all our discomfort.

At one point I burst out laughing because I couldn’t believe how fucked up I must be to try something so painful, and then I remembered I went to the jungle to have a spiritual death and thought it’s been so funny what I’ve put myself through to heal.

I was hoping after that I was through the worst of it and I would break through into some blissful state, but then our teachers said it was only halfway done and I thought “ARE YOU KIDDING?!” The rest of the way was one of the most physically painful experiences of my life!

The sensations were no longer “interesting” they were just HORRIBLY PAINFUL and I couldn’t focus on the chanting as well as before. And then I had this realization that these waves of pain are the waves of life, and yes we do experience joy, but we also experience this PAIN… over and over again. And parts of us are constantly dying, over and over again. Within this pain in my body, I felt the ebb and flow of these life/death/life cycles that I had previously only felt mentally through ayahuasca and shrooms. Every time I feel these cycles it’s so overwhelming to me, but this was a different kind of overwhelm.

It’s like I was meeting my own emotions head on, and normally I lash out like scream at the top of my lungs or go be mean to Eddy or have a crying tantrum, but this was the first time I experienced not really having anywhere for my emotions to go, because I had to stay in this pose and had to keep chanting. I would also be fine for long stretches of time, then suddenly feel a sharp stab of pain and IMMEDIATELY start howling because that was the only way to get my mind off it, since I really no longer wanted to experience the physical sensations. My own VOICE was the only thing that could distract me. Jen would say things like “EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN TRUE POWER. NO ONE CAN TAKE THIS FROM YOU” and I feel like I DID. The fact that my screaming could distract me from that pain made me see this EXPLOSIVE side of me is actually SO POWERFUL, I just need to learn how to tame it — like fire.

I started to wonder if all this screaming and crying I was doing was all built up from my past when I used to never cry, never scream, and repressed it all. It was like all those uncomfortable moments in my life were represented by these shooting pains I would get, and I saw that THIS IS JUST LIFE. EVERYONE GOES THROUGH THIS. EVERYONE IS CONSTANTLY GOING THROUGH THESE SENSATIONS OF PAIN. And then I started grieving because I realized I have to ACCEPT this. The DARK part of duality. Because this is just… nature.

I remember also being ANGRY thinking “I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS” even though I had TOTALLY signed up for Kundalini training, I didn’t sign up for life. We all have to go through this experience of being human… but we didn’t ASK for it. I’m sure in my yoga training they would argue that our souls all CHOSE to be here on this earth at this specific time in history to learn very specific lessons. On good days sure, I believe that, but because pain and suffering are SUCH a constant in our lives… honestly it’s pretty fucked up that we have to just keep going through this.

Maybe this just means I still have a lot to release before I can achieve a true state of peace, but peace is pretty damn hard when you’re living such a dualistic, paradoxical existence.

At the very end when Jen said “YOU ONLY HAVE A COUPLE SECONDS LEFT, THESE ARE THE ONES THAT COUNT THE MOST” I actually did manage to enter a strange state of peace, where all this bright light came in and I had a flash of what I saw when I did ayahuasca, this triangle symbol… what I feel represents my soul. And then I collapsed.

My body felt broken, like my arms and legs just no longer worked. Plus I immediately started crying so hard it was like my dad had died all over again. It took so much energy to just get to laying on my back.

But I made it, while in that position I literally felt completely spent. I couldn’t move ANYTHING, all I could do was heave heavy sobs. But then a familiar vision came to me that I had had years ago when I did energy work with Jackie.

I had washed up, unconscious, on a black volcanic shore, and a little being of light that I’m now sure is something representative of my inner child, comes up with a pitcher and starts pouring liquid light into my mouth. It spills out the sides of my mouth as rainbow light and the rainbow liquid starts to collect around my body and seep into the volcanic rock, and as it does, life begins to grow — grass, flowers, plants — everything becomes green.

That’s where the vision previously ended, but this time as I lay in Savasana on the ground after this kriya, I started to feel as though my arms and legs had become roots and they were rooted into the ground. Then in my vision, I saw that this tree began to grow from my abdomen, and my body was the root system. It grew until it had a fairly decent canopy, but I could tell it was still a young tree. However, it was able to grant shade.

And suddenly my whole life was flashing before my eyes, starting with my pregnant mom appearing under the tree that was me, using it as shade. I’m not going to type out everything that came up because it’s WAY TOO MUCH, but from there it accelerated through my childhood coping with the struggles my parents had, then into me waiting in the hospital during my mom’s miscarriage and feeling her pain so deeply that I never even thought about. Then my thoughts shifted to my mom and how there were so many points in my life that I hated her, and even now it’s rough sometimes to go back and do this healing work and see the depths by which her words and demeanor affected me, “stunted” me. And although I feel like I’ve forgiven her and seen her as her own person, it wasn’t until last night that I feel like I began to really open my heart to her and feel for all of her sacrifices, her loss and pain. Lol I even texted her about it but I’m absolutely certain she doesn’t know how to respond…

And THEN after I went through this with my mom, I continued to go through my life, my teenage years and my relationship with Michael, and Vince, but then when I got to Eddy it’s like the heart opening happened AGAIN with him, and I started to cry for all the pain HE had gone through in his past that he always tried to tell me about and I thought I was listening, but I suppose I wasn’t EMPATHIZING. It felt as though something was cracking open in me, and it’s the part of me that has always avoided truly opening myself to experiencing the horror and pain of others at a deeper level, rather than just sympathizing with them from the outside.

It was a POWERFUL experience.

Trees have been coming up a lot lately, and I love this quote by Ram Dass which Jen brought to one of her morning meditations recently.

ram-dass-appreciate-trees-be-here-now-709x699

I was witnessing my OWN tree. The moments that came up for me when my life flashed before my eyes were the moments when my tree BENT, or took a different direction. And this tree represented my WISDOM. This tree is the wise woman within me… growing this entire time but never able to provide shade until NOW. This tree was the perfect symbol of the observer within me, and it also enabled me to feel on a deep level the WISDOM of ALL TREES. They stand there, weathering countless storms, witnessing a variety of lifetimes, that life/death/life cycle ALL AROUND THEM CONSTANTLY, and THEY’RE not allowed to have tantrums, THEY’RE not allowed to cry… but the WHOLE PLANET is dying and they just stand there and OBSERVE it ALL…

When I finally was able to get up to write all this down in my journal, I had realized that there were so many times I WANTED to get up, but my body straight up would say “no, stay there, you’re not ready” and would tense up instead of rise… and I had to repeatedly breathe into it and relax, and as I did I would go back into my visions. It was all such a trippy experience, but I felt like I did so much intuition building work and have shifted so profoundly because of it.

Afterward Eddy was playing all these beautiful old songs in this playlist that he made for me, titled “Elora.” Every song he would play just spoke to my soul on such a deep level that all I could do was cry. I was completely drained. Absolutely spent. But in the best way possible.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4HHEknDfulSD4CezbshFf3?si=azK-DHwaSX-pXeXzGdfoTw

Eddy and I of course had a wonderful discussion after, and he always brings things back to this world, this reality, this system that we’re living in. I could see how self centered I’ve been because of the programming of this society, this culture, and the reason I seek out such extreme experiences is because there’s such a strong part of me that KNOWS I need to be reprogrammed. That knows I need to learn to PROGRAM MYSELF.

This quarantine is exposing so much of our broken capitalist system and the brainwashing of this consumerist society, and I see now that every time I do something like this, I’m slowly breaking down the effects of this culture and coming back to myself in the way that I can open my heart and be there for other people, like my mom, like Eddy. It’s disgusting to me the gluttony and selfishness that has pervaded most of my life, simply because my mom wanted me to have what she didn’t have in the Philippines, but the excess becomes TOXIC.

It’s so nice to feel like my heart is finally starting to open and I’m hoping this means I’m beginning to move out of my lower chakras. I am beyond grateful for tools like yoga and meditation that don’t require me to go on some trip or take some substance to meet my truest self… and now awesome it is that the closer I get to myself, the closer I also get to other people. Yes life is pain, but it’s also beautiful as fuck.

I wrote this hours ago and am just posting it now, but now I need to post something else. What was even the point of this? God.

Here are some crappy drawings that I didn’t get a chance to finish but I’m gonna put them here anyway because I don’t think I’ll ever go back and finish them later so might as well. Gets the point across.

Sat Kriya01Sat Kriya02-00Sat Kriya02Sat Kriya03

Reclaim Your Own Power

“I now break any contract I have ever made with another, consciously or unconsciously, that has given them power over me, power over my sense of self, the authority to approve or reject me or anything about me, including my voice, body, creativity, spirituality and way of living. Of my own free will, I now choose to directly perceive my own inner beauty and turn within with kindness and compassion to see myself through the eyes of unconditional love. So be it.”

One of my friends in our yoga group just shared her card pull from Alana Fairchild’s Sacred Rebels deck. Given that I just watched Labyrinth the other day, I’m absolutely loving it!!

youhavenopoweroverme

Been thinking a lot about “power” lately, and how funny it is that we so easily give ours up. Any time you assume that someone is thinking poorly of you, judging you, or talking about you behind your back… you allow them to take that power away. You focus too much on THEIR thoughts of you, rather than just going on with your own life. It’s so funny that we do that…

Also been listening to Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” and he talks about how the nature of nature is to eat itself. That’s what the ourobouros is… right? LIFE EATING ITSELF. THAT’S NATURE. THAT is what we have to accept. It’s a tough pill to swallow.

ouroboros

It became really clear to me when he said that tribal societies would have sacred festivals for the animals that they would have to kill and eat… it was their was of honoring the sacred balance of nature. But our modern world does NOT honor that balance, and it puts us in a rough spot to figure out the power balance within society. We’re all capable of being “predators,” in the nature sense… having power… or giving up that power to accept being prey… being that one “eaten by” others.

Shudder. This is why Beastars is so great — brings up those important “cycle of nature, these are our instincts” questions.

Anyway.

I don’t wanna be prey anymore. I probably never truly was, but I THOUGHT I was. Thinking about it though, I wouldn’t wanna be a predator either. I want to be like Gaia… watching it all and experiencing the beauty of it, rather than getting caught up in any type of power struggle. Detached, observant, blissful, accepting… and I guess the only way to do that is to reclaim PERSONAL power. Not let anything else bother you. And this quarantine… separated from any energies competing with my own… it’s been a nice time to begin to honor my own energy. And I’m starting to see…that energy truly IS divine. And guess what, so is yours! 🙂

For the first time in my life I feel like I AM reaching out for that power, and finally claiming what’s mine.

STOP AVOIDING PEOPLE.

“I hope you remember this next time you want to end it all… It’s a small taste of what happens when you disappear. You need to stop doing this to people” – Eddy

There are some events that you know will change your life, but you never expect anything like that to happen on a regular day… which I suppose is part of the beauty of life. It’s so random and unexpected, and we grow slowly and steadily from nudges of daily occurrences.

I meant to write this entry yesterday, but I was processing so much and had work to get done so I missed the boat. But it’s something that I don’t want to forget.

I’m becoming aware that when I get depressed, I quickly go MIA because I can’t stand seeing people doing well when I get into such a low frequency. Yeah part of that is envy, I can’t help it, but the other part, the heavier part, is feeling like a burden. When people around me are doing well, I feel SO uncomfortable sharing about how down I am. I don’t even feel like I CAN, and then I start spiraling into “well this person doesn’t even need me in their life at all anymore because I can’t even get my shit together and look THEY’RE doing so well…”

My logical mind knows this is ridiculous, because it’s unfair to compare in this way and we’re always collectively suffering. Even when things are good, it’s not like we “shun” each other just because the other person isn’t doing so great. Humans (well at least some of them… the ones I surround myself with) love to help. It reminds me how at the Ayahuasca retreat, Drew “commanded” me to ask for help and I had to write it on my hand “DREW COMMANDED ME TO ASK FOR HELP” to remind myself to ask for help even if I don’t feel like it.

hand(From my Ayahuasca ceremony 2 video https://youtu.be/VZ_Jhowrywo)

Then in circle:

Stace: So why do you have such an issue asking for help?
Me: Because I don’t want to burden anyone. I feel like I’m such a downer and it’s such a waste of time and Drew already has so much else to do…
Stace: But Drew LOVES helping people, that’s why he’s here.
Drew: Yeah when I help people, it takes me out of my SELF. Forget my own problems. It makes me feel good. ASK FOR HELP.
Stace: So Elora what about you? When people ask you for help, how does it make YOU feel?
Elora: Well… I guess you’re right. It DOES make me feel good…
Stace: So why would you deny us helping if you know it makes us feel good?

That really put me in my place, but I forget it all the time… especially when I know what people have on their plates. And with this pandemic, I know that a LOT of people have a LOT on their plate. We went into lockdown RIGHT as we were supposed to do our March Kundalini Teacher Training, so we had a zoom check-in call and it made me feel TERRIBLE. Something about connecting on zoom still bothers me too… I have NOT gotten used to it. I think part of it is that I can see my own face talking which makes me feel like I can’t openly speak, or be myself. It makes me too self conscious. But anyway. When I saw everyone in the zoom call… I couldn’t help but feel ashamed because some of them were really feeling great. Like really awakening to their power during this time of crisis, and I was so depressed and chaotic, I couldn’t even explain how I felt. I just felt totally useless, when there were people stepping up, starting to lead meditations, get their community together, help out in any way they could…I was also SO impressed by Jen, the lady who owns the Yoga Studio I go to, the Yogi Tree. She had to scramble to get all the studio’s classes online while dealing with her husband and kids and being a dula and all this other shit… whereas I was just at home wallowing and freaking out over this trip I couldn’t control which wasn’t even a real problem.

ANYWAY.

I felt weird about it so the next day I vomited to Jen how I felt in a text message, and she gave me a call (3/22/20). I told her about how I felt so shitty about myself because people were really stepping up and becoming healers and awakening and here I was feeling like I’d be stuck in shaktipad for eternity, like I was completely useless and incapacitated and had nothing to offer and it was really bothering me cuz I knew I didn’t have any real problems.

And she was SO GREAT. She reminded me that everyone on this planet is a soul that has incarnated in this lifetime at this specific point in history because we all have a purpose, something unique to bring to this world. And that we’re all like seeds, sprouting at different times. And the fact that I’m still here means I haven’t sprouted yet, but I’m incubating… and maybe this time for ME needs to be used to heal and really find my gifts. That I need to be ok slowing down, and when emotions come up, when instances where I no longer want to exist come up, to remember to ask where that’s coming from, and track it as far back as possible. Then the puzzle pieces will start coming together.

I remember feeling so great after this call, like everything was starting to make sense, and “YEAH THIS IS MY TIME TO HEAL!” But then a couple days later, I was so depressed and wanting to kill myself again and saw a text in our What’s App group of someone just gushing about how great she was feeling and I couldn’t even finish reading it without feeling completely nauseated and I ended up deleting the entire App. I had already turned notifications off but I knew I couldn’t handle the temptation of looking at the group and just feeling so bad about myself, so I had to get away completely. So that was about a month ago.

In the beginning of the teacher training, back in September of 2019, I LOVED this What’s App group. I was so active on it, getting to know all the people, absolutely ADORING this yoga community. They truly did become like a family to me, and even the conversation with Jen, and a later facetime conversation with Mary (one of the other teachers) really made me feel like I had found something so beautiful and amazing that I had always been lacking in my life.

Yet I still deleted What’s App, because avoiding is what I do. Eddy called it a “cry for help” and I said that was bullshit lol… but I supposed that response is an indication of what I’m working through.

So yesterday I got some texts from Mary, who btw is also amazing. I told her that she was immediately what I thought of when Eddy asked me how to define “strength.” She’s been through a LOT… so much so that I’m not quite sure how she continues to function, because I wouldn’t be able to. And on our call she told me it’s just because she accepts that she is how she is, even if she does have major depressive episodes and has to sleep all the time. And she accepts that she needs people to help her… she says “it takes a village.” Which… I guess I haven’t been able to accept about myself yet. She also helped remind me that… in this modern world, some people just HAVE to take meds because most of us aren’t allowed the luxury of dedicating our whole life to healing — like homeopathy, constant yoga, constant meditation — our lives now just don’t lend themselves well to that, unless it’s our business (like Jen). Looking back, that conversation is actually partially why I was even okay getting back on my meds… So so thankful…

Don’t wanna forget this:
041420ConversationWithMary
Despite my light tone in these texts…I was freaking out in my head. I immediately re-downloaded What’s App, shaking from the shame and anxiety of having to open it up again after so long…and saw a ton of direct messages from people in the group… which I still haven’t checked. Then in our main group I saw a bunch of them talking about trying to reach out to me but not hearing back, and then Jen saying she was gonna try to track down my husband’s info to see if she could check with him…. I FELT TERRIBLEEEE.

I then went to post my comic on IG, which I had already done but was SO RELEVANT because it was about running away… This What’s App stuff had just happened so in my description I posted:

“Something just happened that reminded me of what a selfish piece of shit I am whenever I go MIA…especially from people who supposedly care about me…a community that, on good days, I’m so grateful to have in my life. I’m amazed at how hard it is to maintain any sort of attachment to anything or anyone when you’re a slave to your moods and feel like avoidance is the only way to make yourself feel better. How you can so easily trick yourself into thinking that no one cares, or everyone would be better off without the burden of having you in their life. Huge apologies to everyone I’ve ghosted over the years…I somehow clearly still haven’t gotten over myself to fix it. Really hoping I don’t run away from this project…There’s too much I wanna say.”

I saw my friend Edward reply to it, and then I texted him about what had just happened. We’ve gotten pretty close since Unikitty, because he’s also on this yoga training path and has a similar upbringing and anxieties to me. He’s a little older and not as old as my dad, but he gives me a really nurturing, masculine energy — plus he’s got 2 daughters so I feel like…he’s really nice to have in my life especially since my dad is gone.

Anyway, so I mentioned it to him and he said “Oh yeah… they reached out to me.” And I felt like I got punched in the stomach. He explained that Jen texted him, thinking that he was Eddy! They have the same name, but when I signed Eddy up for classes at the Yogi Tree, I used my info, but Edward signed up on his own so Jen had HIS info and thought they were the same person! She ended up calling HIM, realizing he wasn’t Eddy, but thankfully he knew what was going on with me so he told her that I was fine.

But I just COULDN’T BELIEVE she went that far out of her way to check up on me… because I had been ignoring HER messages… even AFTER she was so gracious about calling me a month ago after that first zoom call… God even writing about it today is still making me tear up because I can’t help but feel bad about it… and also feel so terrified about how to resolve this situation and apologize… Haven’t built up the courage for that yet. I also felt so ASHAMED that Edward had to deal with this having no idea what it was about! D:

When Edward told me about it, he started pressing me about how it made me feel…and that’s when stuff started coming to light.

edwardconvo

This might not seem like a big deal… but to me it is. And that’s because… I’ve been doing this for YEARS. And it’s just gotten WORSE. It’s almost like… the more I care about something, the more I tend to push it away over time, until I push it completely out of my life through avoidance.

My ex  even told me that he had a conversation with one of our mutual friends and they agreed —

“The closer you get to Elora, the further you actually become.”

He told me that close to 10 years ago now, but I’ll never forget it because I felt so HORRIBLE about it, AND this particular boyfriend never really communicated much to me. He was the kinda guy who, when something bothered him, rather than talk about it (because it caused “drama” he said, and he hated drama), he’d lock himself in a room for days and not come out until he could face me and be “normal” again. Meaning we never actually talked about anything real. So… this one line really had an impact. Thinking back, it was like the first indication to me that there was something wrong with my behavior and how I treat people.

I feel like I’ve known a little bit of why I do it, but it’s so subconscious at this point that I’d rather just not feel the uncomfortable feelings associated with it, and go ahead with the avoiding to just get it out of my life completely. And I was trying to do this with this yoga group that, I SIGNED UP TO COMMIT TO for NINE MONTHS. And part of the reason I signed up was because I know I tend to run away, and I wanted to work on it and not do that anymore… yet I still did.

When Edward asked me how I felt about all of it… I froze. Because I noticed that I was constantly bringing it back to myself “IIII feel shitty because of it” which, I could see for like… the first time ever… was redirecting what I should see as kindness and compassion from the ladies over at Yogi Tree, to anger and hatred toward myself. Which is why I said I feel like there’s a wall around my heart

Something has been happening lately, where, when I have these moments of clarity of patterns and habits I’ve exhibited throughout my whole adult life, I’m just flooded with emotion and I have a total breakdown, but in a good way. Like I’m cleansing something that’s been blocked up for way too long. And what happened here, was that when I felt that wall around my heart, I could instantly feel all these moments from my past where I’ve done this to people, even at the beginning of dating Eddy. If we’d get into an argument or something and he’d try to communicate with me to see where I was at emotionally, I would freeze and try to avoid him. Since we worked together, this was really difficult, and I would resort to talking to coworkers and completely ignore him in order to distract myself from the problem. This was really the first time anyone even BROUGHT THIS TO MY ATTENTION, because Eddy sat across from me and would SEE ME DOING THIS and he said he couldn’t understand it at first, how I could be so cold when he was clearly suffering, and I did nothing to try and resolve the situation. He told me later that he was actually considering breaking up with me for THIS SPECIFIC REASON.

So after I got up from talking to Edward, I went to talk to Eddy about it. Eddy and I have been together 6 years now, so we’re at this point of brutal honesty which I love, and I told him about everything that happened. The way he reacted was so different from Edward:

Eddy: Wow. That horrible because after all they’ve done for you, you just delete What’s App and disappear and leave them with THAT impression?
Me: I know…
Eddy: You deleted it back when you were saying all this stuff about wanting to kill yourself and everything too… it was totally a cry for help.
Me: Well I guess it’s what people do when they feel it’s too much…
Eddy: I hope you remember this next time you want to end it all… It’s is a small taste of what happens when you disappear. You need to stop doing this to people.
Me: I know… but I don’t know how…
CUE SOBBING FOR HOURS. 

I see now that I have such a hard time receiving love, and I’m not quite sure what to do about it yet, except for maybe do some heart opening meditations, and I guess becoming more aware of when I’m doing it so I can try to achieve some kind of balance between solitude and still knowing how to reach out to people. It’s a strange feeling that I get in my heart, when stuff like this happens. Like… I get a blank look on my face and go into my head I think… and it’s how I dealt with trauma as a kid. My mom would always proudly tell our family “no matter what we have to do, Elora is by my side. She doesn’t even cry or anything, she just sits there!” Classic Enneagram Type 7. Distracting myself from the pain due to lack of nurturing.

Yogi Tree is like a family… and I realize now I haven’t been able to handle having a family. The responsibilities, the obligations, the EFFORT… it’s all what I’ve been so afraid of because I was never able to connect with my own family on that level. They weren’t a great example. There wasn’t much EFFORT. Only isolation. It’s all I know… and after being alone for so long it’s sometimes all I think I want. And it becomes overwhelming to even just “check in” with these people, so much so that I would just rather leave and just start up surface relationships with new people. But I see how… that’s a pretty sad way to live. It’s why I feel like I didn’t have any real, deep connections until I met Eddy and LEARNED how to develop the types of connections I had subconsciously been craving.

But now that I’m on that path, I’m seeing the reality of it, and it’s that my concept of love is still so warped. Eddy tried to get further to the bottom of it, asking why it was so painful for me to face things like this. He said something like “you’re so popular and you’re so loved” and I rolled my eyes and started feeling nauseous, and he asked why it bothered me so much to hear that. And after really thinking about it, I can see now how… like Edward said… I hate that kind of attention. I hate being complimented. I hate being “seen.” Because to me… it makes me feel a weird sort of pressure to perform. To “be there” for other people to maintain that “title”, that “compliment” which… basically negates the compliment lol! I suppose thinking about it now… I’m really tripped up by labels in that way, because it gets me in my head, and thinking, we’ve discovered, is really just not great for me to do most of the time.

I’ve gotten really into the Hunger Games lately, and I tell Eddy it’s like in Mockingjay where they try to make Katniss be a voice of the people, but if she’s given a script or has to do an interview or something, she gets way too in her head about it. She rather needs to be seen in the field, doing what she does NATURALLY. And I think… if I’m able to get out of my head and just act NATURALLY, that’s when people seem to love me. But then if I suddenly step back and SEE that people love me… I get all weirded out by it and feel like I have to somehow “keep it up.”

Ultimately we concluded that it comes down to me needing to learn how to forgive myself, but the idea of forgiving myself for all this self hatred I’ve developed over the years is SO PAINFUL… it feels like it’s GOING AGAINST MY ULTIMATE BEING, so instead of forgiving myself, I’d continue PUNISHING myself, and HATING myself for constantly ghosting people. It’s all so disgusting and backward I can’t even stand myself, but I suppose that’s the goal of this darkness inside me, the subconscious patterning that wants to keep living. That forgiveness and acceptance SHOULDN’T be the most painful thing for me, and yet it is, and I feel so trapped by it… how many more breakdowns will I have to go through, how many more people will I have to inconvenience and possibly hurt for me to just GET OVER MY DAMN SELF?

Instead I should focus on being GRATEFUL for all these people who CARE… I feel like a runaway child… Maybe I’m doing all the rebelling now that I wish I could’ve done when I was trapped and sheltered with my mom. That’s a thought.

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.