Exploring The Bipolar Extremes of Life

The universe has been telling me to start blogging on here again, so I’m finally gonna listen! Two days ago I watched Captain Fantastic and it changed my life, so I had Eddy watch it and it changed his too! My whole perspective has also shifted like crazy over the past couple months, and even the past 2 weeks because I also just got back from a trip to Antarctica!! Both other posts entirely…

Today I cried. A lot.  And that’s what finally pushed me to start again. I also can’t go into full detail about this, because I’m still processing… All I can say is that I feel like I’m starting to really embrace this whole “life as an ayahuasca ceremony” thing I came up with as a tool for myself. Thinking back to how I felt during a ceremony… this almost “excitement” for the pain that was to come, knowing that it would be healing… this is probably another post entirely as well. Moving on.

After ACTUALLY doing Ayahuasca, I wanted to discount the bipolar label entirely. The experience at Dreamglade really opened my eyes to how Western diagnoses truly DO only address symptoms rather than the root cause of things, and offer only bandaids as solutions because people are so afraid to face the truth of who they really are. However, coming back to the states and trying to explain what I go through and how my mind works, I see how labels are pretty much just definitions that make things easier for people to understand. Unfortunately it also creates boxes for people to be trapped in, rules to adhere to, and excuses to be placed on ideas and concepts, rather than worked on and understood.

Considering I’ve been subconsciously trapping myself in boxes of my own doing for my entire life, I naturally wanted to get away from something like the label of bipolar. I wanted to focus more on healing, so I made another blog… but now I see that doing so was almost another form of “classic Elora escapism.”

I now see that bipolar doesn’t have to be a “label,” but an exploration.

What does bipolar actually mean? At some point, you answered questions for someone you don’t even know (your doctor/psychiatrist) and they made a judgement about you, without even knowing YOU, or what you’ve BEEN through in life. Yes, there’s a reason that certain traits and symptoms fall under that category, and honestly… it’s nice to know that we highly emotional, EXTREME people are not alone. However, we can’t just use that as an excuse for our behavior once we find out that we fit under some umbrella term. But identifying as “bipolar” and committing to understanding what that means to ME… now that’s PLENTY healing. Rules are meant to be broken, and I feel like what I’ve been discovering about myself is actually HELPING, WITHOUT meds. And it’s something we can all do.

It’s a shit ton of hard work, terrifying, and involves a lot of pain… but isn’t that life? I’ve felt the numbness, and to me… that’s not living.

A lot has happened in the past 6 months. I got married in Hawaii despite the threat of a hurricane, had a spiritual experience in Kauai during our honeymoon, was reborn in the Peruvian Amazon at an Ayahuasca retreat, and lived what I felt was an entirely new lifetime on a boat sailing around Antarctica for 10 days. Now that I’m back home in LA with no huge life changing experience looming on the horizon (well, except losing my job in 2 months), I’ve had to face what it means to stay put and stop running from my biggest fears.

After living this MOST EXTREME half year of my ENTIRE 30 year existence, I can now say that unfortunately… it’s what I needed to actually feel alive and begin to truly move forward. For the first time ever, rather than existing only in a scattered, painful cloud of thoughts, my brain might ACTUALLY be working! 😀 Sadly it’s also made me aware that this is the type of stimulation my brain has needed, and now I want to dedicate myself to learning how to be okay living WITHOUT such extremes… because damn it’s exhausting! And from what I learned while on the ship in Antarctica… not a lifestyle that I actually want anymore.

In addition to all these recent life changing events, I’ve become re-obsessed with the enneagram and archetypes, and it’s pretty insane how duality is EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE!! I really resonated with this guy’s description of the Warrior Archetype.

In this video he MENTIONS bipolar dysfunction, and in his video on the “The Lover” he goes into more detail about it, with this chart that I absolutely love clearly illustrating those poles within all of us! 

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The only answer is to explore this dichotomy, the “bipolarness” of it all! But that exploration requires courage to face ourselves, and it is what we all must strive for in order to GROW, but also to move toward a better world. I’m starting to see that being sensitive to these extremes really does seem like a superpower, a clear gift and curse. The ability to embrace these gifts in their fullness requires an awareness, not only of the  joyous extremes and how those make you feel, but also taming that dark beast that exists to balance that.

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I absolutely love this tweet that a friend sent me 🙂 A “closer bond with the energy of life”… I would like to think so. Everyone’s minds work differently, but something that’s becoming more and more clear to me is that…bipolar minds allow us to feel SOOO so strongly that we experience a special kind of pain, but that pain can also be seen as fertile darkness from which the brightest of lights can emerge!

The brighter you shine, the darker the shadows.

There’s a reason so many of us kill ourselves… because it’s so much easier to do that than to live with feeling this way, and to know that whenever things are good, that crash is waiting just around the corner. But just think how STRONG we can be if we learn to fight it, and what JOY we can GIVE to the world!! 🙂 We feel stronger and deeper and harder than ANYONE ELSE… all we gotta do is learn how to lessen the crash! 

Along with the bipolar, I am an Enneagram Type 7, and knowing that my learning and excitement come from stimulation from the external world, I’m determined to shift that stimulation to what I fear most — the internal world… all those demons I THOUGHT I had faced, but realize are still here every time I attempt to create.

I have learned SO MUCH about myself, humanity, and the world in these past couple months and am SO EAGER to share my findings with anyone who will listen! However…it’s a LOT and I have a feeling it’ll take longer than I think to figure out the best way to do that. Going against my nature, I’m finally trying to be patient and learn to see this internal unfolding as the next adventure to move me forward. It’s such a struggle to learn to trust your intuition and observe and follow where the extremes take you, while at the same time trying to tame that wild beast within, to a certain extent. ADVENTURE INDEED! >:D

This site will be a perfect place to document that journey, because I am now accepting that I forever am, and will forever have, a “Bipolar Beastie.” Hell, maybe that’s how it is for all of us 🙂 It’s about time to start being proud of it!

Thank you to all my subscribers and people who have written comments to some of my posts…it means so much. ;___; Remember… you’re not alone, and it’s worth it to share your story. I’m struggling too, as are we all!! Embrace your beastie!

Honor The Ending: Time Is An Illusion

It’s the time you spend on your rose that makes your rose so important. … You’re responsible for your rose.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Two weeks ago my friend Amy and I got back from an ayahuasca retreat called Dreamglade in the Peruvian Amazon. I wanted to kick off this blog with that story, but when I started looking through photos and videos I realized that it’s just too big, and rushing would be doing a disservice to the whole experience. It also put me in a really strange mood that sent me spiraling into a familiar darkness.

I foolishly thought that, with all the progress I’ve made because of the ayahuasca, I would be impervious to pain. One of the themes throughout the journey was recognizing that pain is temporary and all you can do is move through it, rather than wallow in it. I felt like I had made a major breakthrough, but coming back to this “reality” I now see that pain manifests in so many different ways. Modern society is naturally overwhelming because we’re all constantly overstimulated, so to be able to isolate reasons for feeling a certain way can be difficult sometimes. It was much easier at Dreamglade because we were literally only working on ourselves, and had so many of those stimuli taken away to detox from this mess we live in. Eddy reminded me that a retreat is literally “backing away from a battle to recuperate,” and for me, coming back to Los Angeles to live my “normal” life is like returning to battle.

I wanted SO BADLY to honor our two week Dreamglade anniversary and spent hours yesterday trying to get it done in time, neglecting so much else. I fell into the same patterns of beating myself up about it when it got later and later and realized I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Looking at photos made me feel even worse, like I was losing something important by not having archived it quickly enough. Watching my video journals while the emotions were still fresh, seeing myself talk about little details I’d already forgotten made me so afraid that I’d forget everything I’d learned and felt. That this whole ayahuasca journey, the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life, was already fading into a dream and it would all be for nothing. I heard Drew’s voice echo in my head “You’ll remember what’s important” and responded with “No I won’t, that’s bullshit.”

But then I remembered this “meditation for endings” that Adriene released on her Yoga with Adriene channel yesterday for New Years, and how she emphasizes the importance of “Honoring the Ending” and a “Resolve to Evolve.” I did this first thing in the morning as soon as I got the email, and it made me cry because it resonated so deeply. It’s amazing how we as humans all struggle with such similar issues of not being able to commit to practicing what’s good for us because we crave “perfection” or “instant gratification” which makes no sense when we’re still new to something!

“This is one of the most maddening things about human nature: we quit doing the things that help us most.” – Phil Stutz & Barry Michels, The Tools

My whole life I’ve struggled to commit to anything, allowing myself to wallow in the dark hole of my pain. It’s resulted in me feeling depressed, stuck and unable to follow through with anything important…life continually slipping through my fingers. Being diagnosed as bipolar, I am very much a slave to highs and lows, not understanding how to balance that duality and live in the normalcy of life.  Another Drew quote from the retreat when I was going through some pretty bad shit — “Maybe this is a sign that you just need to start living.”

But what if you’re not even sure how to live, after not living for such a long time?

This is a very common problem with our species, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because we’re all slaves to time, and need to constantly remind ourselves that time is an illusion — Something my dad also clearly struggled with, expressing his frustrations in a comic where time is literally the enemy, “Tempus Fugitives.” But time is something so abstract, a force we’ll never be able to control as mere mortals. This is why “honoring the ending” is SO important, and something great to keep in mind while moving into 2019.

There’s talk about how, after doing ayahuasca, you experience a lot of synchronicity in your life… things that seem to just be meant to happen. Reading The Last Unicorn (and also The Little Prince) has been part of this for me, because I am getting so much life changing advice from both of these books. There’s a part of The Last Unicorn that completely blew my mind regarding time, which I think sums up the issue quite beautifully. It made me realize that what ayahuasca does is open ourselves to receive messages from the higher powers, allowing us to see the world differently and experience magic. Because what is magic? Things that we don’t understand that inspire wonder, similar to when we were a child. And, ayahuasca or not, I believe that magic is always there. We just live so blindly on a normal basis and float through life without recognizing what’s actually important. And this is why art exists, as a desperate plea from people who have experienced these universal truths — a reminder to take the time to see.

“When I was alive, I believed–as you do–that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said ‘one o’clock’ as though I could see it, and ‘Monday’ as though I could find it on the map; and I let myself be hurried along from minute to minute, day to day, year to year, as though I were actually moving from one place to another. Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through the walls.” – Peter S. Beagle, Last Unicorn p.236

This literally made me tear up just typing it out for this post, because it’s SO FUCKING REAL and WE ALL SUCCUMB TO IT. We feel constantly busy, constantly behind, things piling up to such a crippling extent that we don’t allow ourselves to live…but what are we even living for at that point? It’s such a joke! “A house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days”… “New Years” is just another excuse to put more pressure on ourselves to set resolutions that we won’t commit to if we don’t see the root of the problem.

Even now, attempting to honor endings, part of why tears came while during the meditation was my fear of failure. The fear to just let go and experience life, rather than try and control it. The fear of TRUE CHANGE. But the same behavior has prevailed time and time again and caused me so much pain…and what is insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The results won’t be different unless you make the choice to change, and that choice is where all our power lies. That choice is our magic.

“The clock will never strike the right time. Haggard scrambled the works long ago, one day when he was trying to grab hold of time as it swung by. But the important thing is for you to understand that it doesn’t matter whether the clock strikes ten next, or seven, or fifteen o’clock. You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that — then any time at all will be the right time for you.” – Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Time is much more fluid than we think…it moves backwards and forwards, and if you pay attention, the more life you live the clearer this becomes. I’m already starting to see it, but that’s for a future post. This quote from Haunting of Hill House explains it well for now.

I thought for so long that time was like a line. That our moments were laid out like dominoes and that they fell one into another. Days tipping one into the next into the next… in a long line between the beginning and the end. But I was wrong. It’s not like that at all.Our moments fall around us like rain…or snow. Or confetti.” – Nell Craine, Haunting of Hill House

As we left Dreamglade, Amy and I were huddled in tears in the front of Stacy’s car as he was playing sad, appropriate songs like this one:

And she said “I feel like the end credits are rolling” which made me cry and cling to her harder, not wanting the moment to escape because it was too perfect.

Indeed, that’s exactly how it felt, and during these magical times I try my best to “live in the moment” but can’t help feeling like it’s never enough. But this too is part of being human. We live in the painful space between past and future, a space that doesn’t truly exist. The tragic beauty of humanity is that nothing lasts forever, and everything comes to an end.

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Me and Amy in Stace’s car during the “end credits.” Huge thanks to Erik for the photo!

To make me feel better last night, Eddy reminded me of the concept of “eternal return,” and the idea that time is infinite and because we can’t even fathom the nature of infinity, it’s nice to believe that time will repeat itself someday. So every experience that we have is part of us forever, and rather than be sad about an “ending,” focus on how beautiful it is that we’ll always have these memories within us. People constantly take photos and videos to capture a moment, but, like Mother Ayahuasca told me in Peru “The best camera you have is your mind.” As badly as we want to cling to the past, we have to trust that regardless of details, we’ll remember the feeling we had at certain times in our life, and that’s what we have to treasure.

This is a constant message in tons of books, movies, songs… because it’s such a universal struggle and requires effort to remind ourselves to focus on gratitude rather than sadness. And this is what “honoring the ending” and “resolve to evolve” means. All we can do is be grateful for the joyous experiences in our life and use them to better ourselves… to remind us to commit to practices that clear our minds so we CAN focus on the good rather than the bad, and be patient with ourselves when we fall into the trap of being human.

We have to remember that the most important thing about life is to enjoy it with the time that we have and the people who we love. And to be patient with ourselves so we don’t miss this opportunity. Happy New Year everyone, 2019 is going to be different. Let’s approach it without fear or expectation. Remember…pain is temporary.

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