Saturday, August 21, 2010

Depression and Dionysus

I bring ye wine from above, 
From the vats of the storied sun; 
For every one of yer love, 
And life for every one. 
Ye shall dance on hill and level; 
Ye shall sing in hollow and height 
In the festal mystical revel, 
The rapturous Bacchanal rite!
My magickal life changed after I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder II over twelve years ago. Up until that time, it was so easy for me to feel these Dionysian highs simply when I went outside to breathe.
For those of you who don't know who Dionysus was; he was the Greek God of wine, grapes, theater, and fertility. He had female worshippers (maenad's) throw themselves into blissful madness, reveling in song, worship and ecstasy. Dionysus brought me the gift of warmth, creativity, passion and a sensuality that magnetically drew people to me. Every color sparkled in nature and I didn't need any chemical substance to feel so good, so high.
That all stopped when my mother died and I knew that I had to do something more than attending counseling. I  was going to end up either dead or locked away in a mental facility if I didn't change. I had a five year old son at the time, which I think was the biggest reason for me to seek out help. I went to therapist I had previously seen and described  the trouble I was in. He asked me if I considered ever taking an anti-depressant and I looked at him like he just told me I had leprosy. While all this chaos was going on, I was attending a graduate school for a masters degree in counseling psychology. And the major train of thought for people who were depressed was find a good counselor; meditate or be on a spiritual path to turn to when a "dark night of the soul" happened. Hey, I was a follower of Dionysus the God of pleasure, I didn't need any other spiritual path than that, thank you very much.
The rocks and trees are yours, 
And the waters under the hill, 
By the might of that which endures, 
The holy heaven of will! 
I kindle a flame like a torrent 
To rush from star to star; 
Your hair as a comet’s torrent, 
Ye shall see things as they are!
Something clicked though after my therapist suggested medications and I agreed because I was so scared of what might happen to me. My first medication was Prozac and I have to say it changed my life. I still was in dark, deep waters, but I no longer stayed in bed all day, cursing everything around me, inattentive to my son who desperately needed me and promising myself that if life didn't get better, I would consider another "alternative".
I hadn't been diagnosed yet for Bipolar disorder so I was just sailing on, spending literally thousands of dollars a week on clothes, cosmetics, vacations and of course toys for my son. My grandmother and mother both had left in their wills, an inheritance for me, which was a pretty nice amount of money. Along with the spending sprees; I fell in and out of "love" so quickly it would make your head spin. After breaking up with someone, I couldn't understand why the men were angry and confused. I just thought something was wrong with THEM, it was never my fault that I lost interest so quickly.
When I was finally diagnosed five years after the initial diagnosis of having clinical depression, I really had no idea what the difference between having depression or bipolar disorder was. Once I started taking medications specifically for bipolar disorder, my life changed and I became a little more solid and had less suicidal thoughts. I also was able to be there for my son as I wanted to be all along but couldn't. However, I noticed my creativity started to dull. I wasn't staying up all night, writing poetry or hymns of love which left me sleepless and exhausted. Shopping no longer brought me the pleasure it once did. I had to fill that void of pleasure that shopping once brought me and it was then I discovered Yoga. My love life came to a halt because I no longer could feel the erotic passions I previously indulged in. I knew though I no longer had to just survive and maybe could actually start to thrive instead.
As much as I loved my pre-medication Dionysian days, I always knew I would crash into this horrible place of depression after mania and I had no way to stop it. You see the Maenad's in ancient Greek times would throw themselves into such a frenzy they would kill, dismember and sacrifice animals for the love of Dionysus. I felt that cold shadow pass me many times, although I never killed, dismembered or certainly never sacrificed any animals. I just was killing myself over and over unconsciously with a scary insanity. 
I've been through so many medications since then and I'm still trying to find that right combination of meds. which will help with better functionality and happiness. I know I'll never have a day that is 100% perfect, but my Psychiatric Medical Physician who I trust implictly told me that I can expect to have at least 90% days. If a person who has Bipolar Disorder takes the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage of an anti-depressant or a similar drug, it can cause either extreme mania or a suicidal depression. So, it's extremely important for those who have depression or bipolar disorder to find a trust-worthy and knowledgeable physician for the best medical care as well as a
Which brings me to and how I work with "magick" and walk on a healthy spiritual path. I am able to still write and now even blog, but I know I'll never be able to obtain those creative highs I once had. I still miss those Dionysian "highs" but I feel more so peaceful and grounded. Instead of finding pagan festivals to lose myself in, I go to a Yoga class or gather with others who walk a similar spiritual path. I still enjoy the Pagan world and will always be a pagan, but the burning sun I used to worship has dimmed and been hushed. I have voluntarily chosen not to be in a romantic relationship for the last few years. I'm only now ready to enter a romantic relationship when I find the right person because I know now I won't leave him "bewitched, bothered and bewildered" (sorry for the bad pun).
I lift the mask of matter; 
I open the heart of man; 
For I am of force to shatter, 
The cast that hideth -Pan! 
Your loves shall lap up slaughter, 
And dabbled with roses of blood 
Each desperate darling daughter 
Shall swim in the fervid flood. 
I bring ye laughter and tears, 
The kisses that foam and bleed, 
The joys of a million years, 
The flowers that bear no seed. 
My life is bitter and sterile, 
Its flame is a wandering star. 
I really wrote this post to hopefully tell those of you who have a mental disorder of any type, seek help now! There is nothing to feel ashamed about. And yes, the side-effects of medications can be harsh and painful, but the alternative is worse. A life of pure pleasure will in the end leave you burned out and possibly broke, ill or other something much worse. A life of just darkness and depression will deprive you of the beauty and joy that is available. And for those of you who know someone who has a mental illness, please be understanding and compassionate with them. They're not acting out or falling into depression on purpose. "Snapping" out of it, is like asking a fish to stop swimming. It's a chemical illness, just like diabetes and needs to be treated as such. Qualified doctor's and therapists are out there, as well as a lot of good information and resources. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an excellent place to start.
Ye shall pass in pleasure and peril 
Across the mystic bar 
That is set for wrath and weeping 
Against the children of earth; 
But ye in singing and sleeping 
Shall pass in measure and mirth! 
I lift my wand and wave you 
Through hill to hill of delight : 
My rosy rivers lave you 
In innermost lustral light.. 

Dionysus hasn't completely deserted me; he just knows I'm not going to be one of those Manaed's who blindly follow him with the seductive power he has. If you have any questions, thoughts, or simply want to connect with me; I'd love to hear them. Blessings  for all of you.
I lead you, lord of the maze, 
In the darkness free of the sun; 
In spite of the spite that is day’s 
We are wed, we are wild, we are one.
(Poem" Dionysus" by Aleister Crowley)


Debra She Who Seeks said...

A beautiful post, Wendy! You are walking a profound spiritual path and lighting the way for others. Blessings to you and your son!

~Onreeone~ said...

What a beautiful post. Your honesty and passion moved me as I have read this post now three times before commenting.

Ya see, I've never been diagnosed with bipolar but I do indeed have all the signs and symptoms. I think I'm afraid of the diagnosis, like if I'm honest with myself that I just can't "snap out of it". Sometimes it last for days and other times it lasts for months. I have taken antidepression medication for as long as I can remember. My first was prozac which I didn't like because it made me feel nothing. When I say that it made me feel nothing, I truly mean it. In a matter of two months two of my best friends (cousins) passed away. Two people I dearly loved. However, the Prozac kept me from feeling the normal sadness and I was unable to cry. I am an emotional person and always have been so that really made it even worse.
I now take 60 milligrams of celexa a day and for the most part it keeps me balanced I guess. Oh, I still have my highs where I go go go until I crash and I still have my lows which do not let me get out of bed or care for my children properly. But they are few and far between. I also take xanax for the anxiety I have on a daily basis. Being the mom to five children has taken its toll on me. More time's than not, I don't like myself or the crazy thoughts that play out in my mind, but I have learned that it is what it is.

However, after reading this, maybe it is time for Angie to take care of Angie and see what happens.

Thank you so much Wendy--and yeah, I'm pretty long winded.

Blessed Be My Sister--Angie

Lyn said...

This is post is beautiful in its honesty, Wendy. Thanks for sharing your story - mental health isn't the easiest of topic to write about.

I'm pleased you're walking a more balanced path, my friend. x

Wendy said...

Thank you Debra for commenting on how you found my post "beautiful" that means a lot coming from you : )

Angie, it took so much courage to write your comment. It's extremely stressful being a mother, I know. And I took Xanax too at on point but realized it wasn't strong enough for me to help with the biggest issues of anxiety. But if it helps for you, that's all that counts. And I keep thinking of what airlines say when they talk to you about putting on YOUR seatbelt first and then your children's. If a mother doesn't take care of her own needs than she can't help her children. You have incredibly strength though to admit you suffer and don't worry about being "long-winded", it's your type of comments that make me feel like I touched someone. Thank you so much for sharing who you are and what you struggle with.

Lyn, thank you as always for commenting and showing your support. It's helps so much to know that you're there as a friend and a co-author. I feel very blessed :)

Mother's Moon's Message said...

such a personal story. thanks for sharing it with us. not an easy thing I am sure...

Anonymous said...

we all have our crosses to bear.... it is what we do with the opportunity that is given to us. Do we face it head on or do we side step it completely. Sometimes I guess it is best to do a little of both.


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