Dan so eloquently describes his rocky journey through pathologisation to having the strength to find meaning in his experiences; meaning that has enabled him to come off all psychiatric medication and live life with a greater sense of well-being, depth and purpose:
Thank you Dan, for your whole- hearted sharing of your journey to help others:
In 2011 and 2012 I experienced a series of altered states and a sense of spiritual crisis which was difficult to handle and resulted in being hospitalized. This was a pretty rough experience as it involved being put into jail cell like solitary confinement for over 48 hours, and being forced to take drugs against my will, without being told what it was they were giving me. While I was going through this stuff, and in the aftermath of those experiences, I was very curious about what exactly did it all mean, and what was really going on there?
The idea that it was just my brain “malfunctioning” in some way, that I was “crazy” or had a “mental illness” did not seem like satisfactory answers to me, and I wanted to explore the deeper meaning of what was going on in those processes. However in the mainstream mental health system, the approach is to not make any attempt to address or understand the meaning of what is going on there, but instead to medicate and suppress it in an attempt to make it go away, so the person can basically try to forget that any of that ever happened, and resume a “normal” life. I came across the idea of “Spiritual Emergency” early on, but in the immediate aftermath of those experiences, I was heavily medicated and felt depressed about the whole situation, and so I was wondering how relevant that idea was for me, because at that point in time I certainly didn’t feel like I was “spiritually awake” or “enlightened” or anything like that.
In 2014 I made an attempt to come off the medication that I was on, and at the same time I was having a rebirth of a sense of creativity and enthusiasm for life, as well as a renewed interest in the topic of Spirituality. At this time I found out about someone doing group meditation sessions / Satsangs, and I decided to give that a try. During my first attempt at meditating in that group, I experienced a radical shift in consciousness, where I woke up to a new level of awareness that has remained with me to this day. To this day I continue to meditate and work with the same spiritual teacher that introduced me to this in 2014. I have found that meditation and spiritual practice has been greatly beneficial to stabilizing in this awakening process, and as I continue in life, and life presents itself with new situations, I continue to be shown more areas in my self to work through, where the mind is clinging and holding on with attachment. For me, Spirituality has become more than just a “personal interest” but a practice that is vitally essential to living my life in a healthy and stable way, and it is a source of a great sense of well being for me.
At this point, I have no doubts about the validity of the process that I went through being a “Spiritual Emergence / Emergency”. The topic of the intersection between Spirituality, Psychology and Mental Health is a central area of interest for me, and I plan on being involved in the world around this in one way or another. It’s also important to mention that I spent last year doing a slow tapering and coming off the one psychiatric medication that I was on, a process that was successfully completed with out much difficulty in November 2016. At the time of writing this I have been medication free for four months.