I have been asked by a couple of very brave people what it is like going mad. What I went through was indescribable in the truest sense of the word – I know that even I have completely lost touch with how awful it was and I was the one who went through it. Communicating it to other people feels almost impossible.
When I talk about it most people don’t have the capacity to even listen to what I have been through, because it is so awful, never mind imagine it.
I essentially detached from the normal timeline of life. My way of processing experience became completely unhinged from a normal human way of being in the world. This was obviously completely destabilising, but it gave me access to a way of being solely in the present moment. This gave me a freedom to meet all experience in a way that wasn’t so attached to how things normally have to happen in order for them to make sense and make an impact on someone.
I could process and rewire myself based on the conversations I was having with people in my head or the emotions and shamanic journeys that were being channeled through me, for example. Every moment was meaningful in a way that was completely overwhelming but that meant that it felt like I lived years of life in just a few days.
It was exhausting and excruciating.
For several weeks after reaching my worst state of consciousness, every single day I would go through at least one shift in consciousness that left me feeling so much better than the day before that I couldn’t comprehend how I had been able to survive in the previous state. The worst of it must have been unimaginably awful.
I would count seconds to stop myself committing suicide. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I was completely out of touch with what reality was anymore and had an unshakeable conviction that the only way out of it was to keep going.
I feel that it’s important for me to talk openly about this aspect of it. Not as a martyr, but in the spirit of truth and open-hearted honesty about why the spiritual path is hard.
The truth is that reality is a cluster fuck of chaos, trauma, difficult relationships and stuff that we don’t want to be present with. What I went through was a process of integrating every part of reality ‘as it is’ – I was faced with the raw emotional truth of every part of experience.
The process of integrating all the shadows, trauma or karma was horrific. But now I have done it I am able to be present with every aspect of humanity and experience.
Anything that paints reality or the present moment as some kind of perfect suffering-free zone is a lie. The reason people can’t be present is not because they are misperceiving what life is, but because life is genuinely hard and painful for people.
This difficulty resonates through our energies, our history, our physical bodies, our emotional worlds and the way we perceive each other, ourselves and the world. It infuses every aspect of our being.
If we want spirituality to facilitate us to be more loving, open, connected and present with the truth of experience then it needs to firstly acknowledge how reality actually is and secondly facilitate the healing and environments that genuinely make it possible for people to be able to show up to their lives in a way that is honest and realistic and isn’t based on painting some false image of the true nature of reality being Disneyland.
Spiritual practice also needs to get better at understanding and supporting people with handling the difficulties that can arise on the path and with navigating dark night type experiences.
There is gold to be found in these experiences. If you can go to your darkest places, open to them and move through it, you release the fear and contraction around that part of you and convert it into love. This is why these experiences arise on the path – they are offering you an opportunity for a profound and deep transformation of your entire way of being.
But there is a better way for these things to be experienced and for the benefits of them to be reaped, than the way I had to do it.
If we are held through the process it can feel like a pleasant relief to let go of the darkness and layers of delusion that we are entrenched in, rather than a torturous and terrifying prison sentence that we have to endure.
On the other hand, my experiences have given me a deep respect for other people’s journey. Sometimes people have to go through hard stuff in order to grow and learn from the lessons and experiences. Sometimes a story ends in tragedy.
I had to go through what I went through in order to become the person that I am – there was no other way. If I had committed suicide during the process, it wouldn’t have been the least wise decision I have ever made – I would certainly kill myself rather than go through it again.
I don’t want to wrap people in cotton wool and I don’t believe that I am here to save people but I believe and hope that one of the reasons I had to go through this was so that other people didn’t have to. So that there was another option, a way for people to open up these parts of themselves – to a more connected way of experiencing the world – without having to drag themselves through hell.
A lot of my writing and teaching is based on how we can do this – achieve the positive outcomes of the aspects of experience that have been discovered through my experiences without having to go through the nightmarish process.
In the spirit of open sharing here is a description of some of that process I went through. I struggle to convey what I’ve been through in words, so here is some media that helps communicate it alongside some extracts from my journals.