Vigilant of total disconnect
Gavin T. Murphy keeps a blog on ilovebipolar.com and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.
How painful it is when I am with other people but feel totally alone. My mind is scrambled with buzzing images, thoughts that I perceive are voices. And my feelings are everywhere… spiralling out of control. I need help and fast.
I ponder a totally disordered mind; the things I normally take for granted are not working properly. The inner critic is like the owner of a vicious dog who ties him up, starves him and beats him. This evil wants me to be unbalanced so that I can be dominated by mindless attachments. How can I slow down and connect? My heart is stuck in a coma of numbness. I tell myself it is better this way than having to listen to my feelings which appear so complicated. I tell people that I’m in top form, yet I am crumbling inside. How am I supposed to find peace in this chaos of being? How can I step back and see the big picture? How can I listen to the sound of sheer silence?
But I learn the ways of the world, how to establish a connection, how to be with real people instead of a fantasy world of passing moments, to let go of any clinging or fixation. I reach out and ask for help. I take medication, do psychotherapy, meditate and start to write.
I can embody a constructive state of mind by seeing all things as ‘One’. I can apply the three P’s of prayer, pampering and people. I pray that my loneliness be replaced with companionship. I pamper my ‘monkey mind’ with the calming sound of “Mu”. I connect with real people. My inner observer sees the ugly source of my mood. I can embody heartfulness by finding ‘God’ in all things. I can listen, notice and ponder. I hear the desire to honour my feelings. I notice an invitation to ask for help. I ponder my whole life – my genes, my environment, and so on. This empowers me to dig deep, to find a way to walk the road of recovery and be comfortable with my breath and silence.
I am reminded that the ordinary things of life, when unable to do them, suddenly become the deepest longings in my heart. I am content with a couple of swims and a run every week, I enjoy meeting a friend in a café on a Friday evening and I am happy with reading a book at night. From this perspective, the ordinary is in fact extraordinary. I look to the mystical life of Pedro Arrupe SJ, who was driven with a conviction that ‘God’ is everywhere at work, orchestrating the chaos of human affairs. I believe the divine intimately works away during my experience of mania, sending out helpers in many shapes and forms. I desire to enter into loving and compassionate hands.
Thank goodness for balanced mood! Mindfulness enabled me to replace loneliness with companionship and to embody wholeness. Mysticism enabled me to discover the hidden beauty of ordinary life again and to say “Yes” to divine loveliness. As an aspiring mindful mystic, I contemplate the growth of the lotus that rises through mud, emerges through water and blossoms through sunlight.
[This fifth poetic reflection on mental health for young people is in line with the Jesuits’ new apostolic preference: “To accompany the young in the creation of a hope-filled future”. More to follow soon].