My name is Liisa, I live in Finland. I have been very curious about life since childhood, and lived and learned by creatively combinating all things that I’ve found around me. For instance, at school I didn’t respect much of the boundaries that I saw were drawn between ’different’ subjects, but saw them interrelate and made my own combinations of understanding things over the boundaries which I was taught. That made it also interesting and easy for me to learn things and only increased my thirst of learning new. I was a very sensitive child. After highscool I first studied to become a mental health care nurse. After working some five years in a hospital, mostly at acute psychoses ward, I encountered a personal crisis and felt that due to my own crisis cannot go on working there. I wanted to see a more whole pictue of helping people and myself as well in mental distress. So in mid-ninties I started to study different alternative (body)therapies and views of life, mainly from taoist and tibetan, but also ayurvedic, shamanic and christian tradition. I was very interested in cultural anthropology; the existential and cosmological questions and sociocultural explanations in different cultures of our world. I read and studied a lot, started to practice yoga and meditation and so on.
On the way I got married and gave birth to two children and familylife routines took over. After some years we ended up divorcing, and at the same time my father died. I was again in a major mental distress, in a totally new lifesituation that I tried to cope with using all the different ways I ever learned about human mind. A couple of years went by, many ’trials and errors’. Then, in the summer of 2006 a frantic, really furious seeking of answers began: how could I help myself, primary to be able to help my loved ones, who I saw suffering as I was?
In two years (2006-2008) I lived through a very intense spritual and existential questioning, during which I had a lot of positive and some very frightening, ’out of the ordinary’ experiences and clear insights about the nature of mind and the consciousness, that are often referred as spiritual experiences. Those experiences included for example feelings of expansion of the mind; periods of overwhelming, ’high-voltage’- energy/light/information flood in my whole being (kundalini?), revealing me for example a vast understanding or instant realization of the myths, symbols and archetypes in human consciousness; experiences of simultaneosity, synchronicity, telepathy; also many ’deaths’. At that time there was sometimes a temptation to think that I found my way ”there” (whatever that is…). But somehow I knew, that this is still all happening on the level of the mind. A very LARGE mind – collective mind – but, it was ’on this side’, inside the wheel of our limited existence. This was not where I wanted to stay, but I wanted to go further, find the way out, like really, OUT! And to understand what is the true freedom, the Ultimate Truth behind the material AND the spiritual worlds, as I saw them as two parts of the same whole, bardo (or in-between-states), like two sides of a coin. And I wanted to WAKE UP – to see what is behind that material-spiritual coin, what it was all about.
Then I did get my answer, but it was far from what I wanted to hear or see! First it came as a profound fear-illusion-realization: There is NO WAY OUT of this paradoxical wheel of life/existence; no use of trying to find answers about the Truth. The self, or the ego, trying to undo itself, to see through itself – a finger trying to point itself – impossible to be undone by the (little) self. All tries to fight against this fact seemed to be pointless. A total dead-end. This left me with enormous agony; anxiety and fear, at times sheer horror. As if the collective ego (and my own) screaming at me: ”Are you happy now? You wanted to have answers!? Well, here you are now! Happy? You wanted to save the whole world! Who the hell you think you are!? Here, I tell you the truth: you have doomed not just yourself but the whole world to an endless nightmare, the endless spinning of this coin!” I had no choice but to completely surrender to the devastating truth: there was absolutely nothing to do. No way out. Desperate, full of horrendous fear, I ended up in hospital for two weeks. A breakdown… the first part of true surrendering, giving up.
… and a break-through! What finally happened is impossible to put in words, it was beyond any earlier realizations. Anyway, it left me with the knowing that everything is fine, in fact perfect, as it is – and has always been and always will. This knowing was very sure, absolute, intense – something far beyond everyday ’knowing’, beyond cognition, intellect, beyond ’me’ or ’my’ consciousness. As an intimate and omnipresent experience it lasted for some time, then fading away but staying as a state behind, around and inside my being ever since. The knowing that there is only One common consciousness where Everything emerges and dances, only one possible truth, one possible outcome, what ever things seem to be dancing in it. The Truth behind is untouched.
During this intensified process in the beginning of the new milennia, I was once hospitalized for a short time, while I got my very own, ’nice and neat’ label. I got diagnosed as a bipolar type 1 person. I’ve never questioned the fact, that according to the western mindset, I was psychotic, but yet, at the same time it was something far from that. As an educated mental health care nurse, and as a person who had trained herself to look deep – I could at the same time look, compare and analyze my ’two places of being’, using two different frames of reference at the same time. Later, looking at this process as a whole, I have integrated it, mainly by making sense of it, explaining, interpreting and translating it to some words, that I, and hopefully you could understand. I will give my ”translation of a psychosis” as an experiencer of it, in the end of this story, if you wish to look at that.
What struck me back then was, that during my stay in the hospital and during my ’rehabilitation period’ afterwards, no one seemed to be interested in or asked me what I was going through, what I experienced and why. The whole episode left me with the feeling that everyone just looked not at me but the symptoms and made their own interpretation of them – not truly listening to me, seeing me, the whole human being with a whole life behind. That left me with the feeling: ”Your experience is not something you talk about! It is shameful.”
What I heard people talking, explaining, were only notions about something considered as symptoms of some abstract, artificially created, conceptual state of mental health/illness and then acting out of the paradigm, trying to medicate ’the dangerous, manic symptoms’ away. The greatest paradox is, that at the same time when the western mainstream way of looking at mental health/illness, defined me, as mentally ill, I knew, that I am finally healing. The period, when I was considered to become mentally ill, I see as the period that my lifelong ’illness’ of unconscious guilt was really reaching out to find its cure! For me it was like a healing-crisis, as it is called in homeopathy. Everything must come up for cure.
To deal with these processes of re-arranging, integrating one’s whole being back together, people are often left completely alone. To integrate all that I had gone through, to make a new – more whole view of the self, meaning of my life, the meaning of life – that was left for me to do alone. In the silence and solitary – there is nothing wrong with that; that is even necessary. Now I talk more about the feeling of secrecy, the need to hide, because of the shame, the stigma that ’mental illness’ carries in our society.
One often has to manage this painful process out of the eyes of our western society and the the health-care system, that seems to leave people in mental distress with quite a simple and clear message: Beware of your ’craziness’! You are weird! Try to be Normal! Eat your medicine! Fear! In my story, as I experienced it back then, the message seemed to be: ”If you don’t take your medication, you will most probably go crazy again, and that may lead you to disability of taking care of your children, which may lead to taking away your children from you!” Any mother understands that in this kind of circumstances you will keep quiet! Take your meds and hide deep deep in the closet!
What I see deep down in the process is not any bad intention, but fear. Nothing to be blamed, nothing ’bad’ in the ’system’, rather something to be compassionate about. I saw the anxiety, guilt and fear not only in myself but in human mind, in the people’s mind who tried to help me with the best knowing they had at the time. What happened in my case only reflects that fear in the system/society. By reducing the stigma, we reduce the fear in everybody, the guilt in everybody.
Now 10 years have passed. I live a completely ’normal’ life with some seemingly bigger or lesser problems and anxieties. I’ve studied some more. Now I also have a basic degree in visual arts and a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities. Not that it would be something important to mention, but to tell this to the people in the middle of their crisis, who may be afraid of that the professional life is completely over if you happen to find yourself in a deep mental/physical health crisis at some point of your life. I chose a (western) medicine-free life years ago, yet today I feel that some medication is at times very helpful support in this process of open dialogue with yourself and with your loved ones. I have gone through a very profound healing process. Necessary, inevitable, sometimes extremely painful one, but most of all, a great blessing. The process goes on, but I believe, that I survived the climax, the turning-point. I know now, that I am perfect as I am, with all ’imperfection’ included. As perfect as I know that every being/everything is. It is my time now to come out of the closet, in order to help others alongside myself in this process, with my best ability. The biggest help that we can provide to the people experiencing a spiritual or existential crisis, is to REDUCE THE STIGMA; VALIDATE and NORMALIZE this process and the experiences occuring during it, as a NATURAL EVOLUTIONAL PROCESS of human mind.
It cannot be emphasised too much, that reducing guilt/shame around any stressful situation in life is crucial. It is very important to include this idea in the training of the people who are working as health care professionals. Especially for the mental health professionals, I wish to give my short interpretation of the ’spiritual psychosis’ – based on my personal experience, translated to western medicine & transpersonal psychology language. It looks like this:
The personal conscious mind bursts up to consciousness and realizes that it is everything. The consciousness is not anymore just ’yours’ but ’you’ are that in immeasurable scale. This manifests in seeing, experiencing, yourself everywhere, in everything and everybody, even everytime (there is no time in this experience, but only ’now’). From that collective, timeless consciousness rises the often reported experiences of simultaneousity and synchronicity, also understanding of symbols – everything becomes meaningful. Suddenly you know that ’you’ have ALL of this in your mind, and thus, that this is actually ’your’ very own creation! All of it – both ”good” and ”bad”. If you haven’t yet totally given up the belief of yourself as a doer, as a separate ego, the actor (as it was in my case), the reasoning of the ego-mind starts, and an enormous guilt from the unconscious ego-mind surfaces.
So, there is suddenly an enormous guilt emerging. Remember that you are now convinced that your every thought creates, because you see and experience yourself ONE with EVERYTHING. – How many bad or not-loving thoughts you think you’ve had during your lifetime? It means you’ve also created all the horrors of the world, since you are responsible of everything that is! (At this point the little ego is at the same time grandiotic and very very scared, terrified!). From that experience rises the encounter with the (transpersonal) collective-ego-demiurgi-creator, that as a personal experience manifests as a overwhelming feeling of guilt: ”Shame on you!” Which is really true! But fortunately – only from the little self’s illusionary point of view. Anyway, the guilt is there (consciously or unconsciously), and it is far too much for a little self, or ego (for me these two consepts overlap), to handle. It now has to attack against itself – the poor seeking mind, who wanted to get rid of itself or ego – and it even has to explode and break the mind that is questioning it… at least temporarily => the painful psychotic experience full of indescribable suffering and agony. This happens during the ’awakening process’, before a person can totally ’let go of the idea of letting go’ that means also letting go of the idea of ’getting rid of the ego’.
As I’ve understood it, it’s when you first ’wake up’, you see, realize, the nature of everything that is, in this two-sided world. You can see the big whole, the outcome, you see ’what’ is real, but cannot understand ’how or why’ it is. This cannot be understood with your little mind, who is very obsessed with wanting answers! And that can get very puzzling. It may take a seemingly long time before you can understand/adapt/integrate/accept yourself. Actually, that is: gradually undo yourself and let go of all need for understanding, need of knowing, need of resisting, need of letting go, even. It is like a huge scale separation-individuation process. Separation – individuation -process that actually goes on all your Life (and death). Until you, so to say, ”die before you die”. In this way you may born again, ’rise up’ to see the new and at the same time very old and ordinary reality. Life as it is. Until that a lot of unstabilazing experiences may appear. Some of them can be very frightening. As I’ve understood it, these frightening experiences are based on guilt (mainly in the unconscious mind). That is also the very thing that keeps the human consciousness asleep. The horror of confronting the underlying guilt, that you need to look at and to see through, to proceed! It is an enormous guilt (essence of fear) that created and keeps this ’world-coin’ turning as we know it in our shared (illusionary)reality. Only seeing behind that guilt and fear, One can finally, really ”wake up” to find the non- illusionary Reality. Love, that Is. When looking at the matter from this angle, you can understand what relieves the awakening and integration process vs. what adds to the pain and difficulty of it. REDUCE THE GUILT, REDUCE THE SHAME. Forgive yourself and others. Everything is perfect in reality, only on the illusionary level we mostly live in, it may appear very different. So, Forgive at last and then let go even forgiving! Accept yourself and others exactly where you are! That is the best you can do to reduce suffering in this very painful birth-process of Life. And remember: always begin with yourself.
My dearest reader, including you and myself, please understand this one thing. All described in the text before is ‘past’. As it is past, it is also delusion. Likewise ‘the future’. The Reality, true reality happens Now. As You read and I write this text, now.
All those things described before are gone already. Today, this morning, I sit here and write. My Life may seem very different from those days 10 years ago. Sometimes it may seem that the past repeats itself. That is true too – actually it’s exactly what happens all the time, all around the world, always. Always the same – ‘right now’ – one moment.
The only thing I truly want to say to All of you who ever read this text is:
Trust. Love. Feel Blessed. Because that is who you Truly are: Love, Trust, Blessing. Give yourself your own Loving Attention. You have deserved it as much as everyone. We are One.
This Katie’s campaign, Emerging proud, was the last wake-up call for me, personally. I thought I had woken up something like ten years ago, (as we all are awake, in a true sense) but it just seems to take some time to accept this. This campaign’s WAKE UP CALL rang so clear, though, that it kind of forced me to take action. It may seem to be two different things to be ‘awake alone’, privately, and to be ‘awaken in/with the world’. To be awaken and act in the world – and to wake up all the world as one, demands only One thing. One must Learn the last Lesson. That is: ACCEPT YOURSELF, LOVE YOURSELF, GIVE UP OF TRYING, TOTALLY. Only that will make you capable of Truly make a difference. First, in your own life, and then – only then – in the life of ‘others’, in the world. In the end it is the very same thing. Thank you, Katie. Thank you, reader. Thanks to Life.
Liisa Ekosaari, Mesenaatti FreeBird
#Emerging Proud would like to extend huge gratitude to Liisa for her enormous effort in sharing her incredible story and artistic talent with us for the campaign.