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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Mental Illness and the Witch
Article ID: 10812
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,497
Times Read: 3,955
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Author: Cate Cavanagh
Posted: July 23rd. 2006
Times Viewed: 3,955
by Cate Cavanagh
Many who know they are extremely sad or otherwise watching life by the sidelines do everything except consider their problem as a medical condition. Many of us grew up with the ethics of have a stiff upper lip, be a man, stand on your own two feet and even the implied message that women do not have the concerns or responsibilities that men do. However, this is NOW, not back when. Therefore, denial is the biggest setback to seeking medical or therapeutic help for the very condition that affects so many Americans. So many people are incapacitated by mental disorders they cannot stand on their own two feet, handle responsibilities or just enjoy a sunset. “How many?” you ask. Try well over 20 million Americans! This figure makes mental illness COMMON, not crazy!
There are many manifestations of mental illness from clinical and manic depression to post traumatic stress disorder and a whole array in between and you may be wondering why I am writing about mental illness and what this has to do with being a Pagan or Witch. Firstly, as founder of QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY, The Science of Change, I spent many years reflecting on and trying to determine what makes prayer/spell work effective. Secondly, I suffered many years from manic depression (bipolar disorder) and severe depression. I was fortunate in that as I suffered serious set back episodes, I adamantly knew I did not want to be the person I was when I had emotional setbacks. I know first hand that often even medication is not the panacea for controlling the flare ups of mental illness and through enduring the painful times of relapsing into my illness I decided to enhance my healing with the very tools I was developing as I worked on The Science of Change.
As a quantum metaphysician whose whole discipline requires refusal to define the self as victim, I often chose to call these lapses as my "being squirrelly.” Did I do this to deny my affliction? No. Did I do this to laugh at myself? Yes, because until we learn to laugh at even our weaknesses, we are slaves to the weakness. The presence of Coyote in Native Teaching best reflects this theme as Coyote is the Loki figure in Native culture and being dogged by Coyote means Coyote will test your mettle at every turn until you learn to not give into panic and fear by learning to laugh at the oddity of your circumstances. When one learns dark humor and can laugh about the absurdity of one's life, Coyote moves on to the next person in need of a serious wake up call. I have "known" many Coyotes in my life and have fought may demons-metaphorical ones, REAL ones and my own inner demons. To call myself "squirrelly" during challenging times is my way of taking lightly my occasional bumps with being manic as humorous. With each episode, I came to know myself that much better and in so knowing am mastering it. My determination to master it is two fold. Firstly, why would I want to suffer long periods of confusion, depression and never ending cycling of the same thoughts repeatedly, especially if they not positive and proactive? Secondly, I am a bona fide Witch with all the power and energies around me at all times that my mind directs toward healing people and helping people find their truth. My work is helping people move forward into happier lives.
If I am experiencing a painful mental set back, how am I directing all that is around me toward a positively focused outcome? In periods of mental confusion, I am no less powerful in my craft so I guard myself carefully in terms of what I think or say. A spell caster (as you are) I can set into motion more fear that will create increasingly fearsome situations until I learn to say "Stop!" and redirect my energies away from fear and insecurity and toward reinvention of the self.
The Science of Change as I teach it demands an awareness of our challenges but never surrendering to them. This is done by learning to redirect all the forceful energy our minds generate (as a result of stressful challenges) and focusing this creative energy on other aspects of the self, especially redirecting our self definition into being a person who is not defined by sorrow, illness and even mental illness. People like me are not nuts but, what makes me and other theological brethren unique is that we are witches- which means we possess great power and the ability to use it whether we wish to or not. This is one reason for The Rede I suppose- to prevent us from using our gifts in ways that might interfere with the Universe's momentum for others and for ourselves as well.
Nevertheless, as Witches with a mental illness who have the ability to generate immense amounts of energy as spell casters, what spells might we inadvertently be casting upon ourselves if we allow ourselves to freebase in a set back in mental illness?
In QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY, I teach exactly how quantum physics creates all that is around us for better or for worse. I also teach how to create preferred realities and the discipline of redirection of thought from a victim perspective to that of a champion. As part of developing this science, I had to take into consideration all causation factors that justify feelings of victimization and fear. In so doing, I examined my own life and my own challenges and learned how my fears perpetuated more circumstances for me to fear. In essence, as a gifted Witch, my focusing on these challenges worked as a spell and, being the effective Witch that I am, my will was done!
As I worked on the skills I developed that would later become QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY, The Science of Change, I addressed in time the disease that was my mental illness. Until a medication regimen is identified, which can take time, mood swings and other symptoms will continue until they are managed with the proper dosage of medication. Even then, life being as it, there will still be pitfall moments but the question is how can these be handled?
Although I discovered The Science of Change I am first and foremost a Witch, a person of deep faith in that which I believe and I am determined to guard my thoughts and speech very carefully while working through a set back.
I also speak with my Goddess all the time and during these conversations I learned that She can even stabilize me during challenging moments. If I am feeling fear encroaching upon my sense of serenity, I ask Her to lift my fear and replace it with hope. I will tell her what I do not imposing on my sense of self and what I feel I need in its place and I am never disappointed.
The difficult thing was learning to identify the symptoms of an episode before I became victim to it. With time, anyone, especially with the help of a professional, can learn his or her own warning signs. For me it is one little thing: I begin to look back too often or only on certain aspects of the past. I have learned that I must stop this from progressing before I get a on train that will travel away from who I have the right to be and toward the person of the past that I have redefined.
To me, being a Witch is about empowerment and inner peace. Nothing that does not support this state of grace can be condoned nor will it be endured. It is a matter of priorities: me or becoming the victim to anything that would strip me of myself.
As a Witch, I have a responsibility to myself but I also have a responsibility to others who might suffer the negative impact of the energies I can create within my mind if I am upset or despairing. Energies that "free base" without focus can border closely to Chaos and we all know where that can lead.
Mental illness is a challenge to designer emotions but that does not mean mental illness cannot be mastered via medication and therapy and the determination to simply learn how to manage it with proactive and creative tools designed to redirect the mind fallen prey to the occasional erratic disturbance.
The main question is this: as Witches can we afford to wallow in even momentary mental lapses if we are so afflicted? Can the people around us? Should we wallow when our Goddess is there in a moment to help us as we truly work toward a solution to these lapses?
In QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY, I focus on the science but never abandon belief as a major factor. Belief is important not only because it helps us maintain hope but because it provides a moral compass that will keep us away from the arena of Chaos- intentionally or unintentionally.
As a Witch with a mental illness diagnosis, I chose to not embrace the disease but have allocated it to an awareness that is secondary in nature. I can choose to be that "mentally ill Witch" or the "Witch with a mental illness" which is a totally different thing. People with heart conditions move on to do amazing things. Some even run in races.
In today's society, life seems almost orchestrated for stress and challenges but if we are to move forward and fulfill our individual destinies, we must learn to navigate around the challenges and not have the challenges become roadblocks. Mental illness is such a challenge- but it does not have to block our lives.
As with any intervention and life coach program, QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY teaches the skills we need to begin helping ourselves by taking on the arduous task of learning how to think, prioritize and abandon all the "isms" we were taught. Know yourself but know you enemy better. Bliss, because of meditation, devotions and prayer, is rare. What does happen is an awareness of the challenge and glimpses of creative problem solving that will lead to freedom from the "you" carried around instead of discovering your true self. All healing takes work but first, if you suffer mental illness at all the first step requires acknowledgement and a commitment to be healed.
Yet, Witch or not, our first impulse is denial and it is this denial that will leave us victims to an illness we probably inherited from Great Aunt Tess. Denial blocks knowledge and self-advocacy. Mental Illness is certainly one enemy but denial, as far as it prevents people from considering going for help is the worse of the two. Denial will talk us out of treatment, healing and isolate us from those we love. As we tumble in to the marshes of shame, we hide our illness out of an archaic desire not to be discovered. In so doing, we are removing allies that can help us heal.
Once the decision is made to be rid of the beast that is your mental illness, the best way to battle an enemy is to KNOW it! Challenged people become champions as they take their mental health, and other issues, into their own hands and defeat it! But you can only begin to win a battle when you choose to do something about it.
My personal plan which is working for me is morning devotions to Hecate and then to my muse Brigid. I underwent medication therapy with the goal of using its benefits to train my mind to break negative mental habits. I count blessings. I talk to Hecate all the time, aloud, and ask for guidance and help to keep my mind focused. Because my requests are answered, this is where the belief component cannot be overlooked. When we have moments of fear and intense insecurity believing in a deity that can help us will get us through rougher moments. I know. I have been there.
Yet, today after all the strum and drang that was a mentally challenged life; I am incredibly focused writing my message all the time because I believe in my Science of Change. As a person with a physically painful disability for some time, I began to tire of the impact pain was having on my life. In order to address stress I began Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a wonderful discipline that strengthens the body's healing abilities while offering exercises that enable the mind to rest. When I started, it just felt good. Doing Tai Chi became my mental vacation. Then a curious thing began to happen. My pains began to subside drastically. Aside from the age old school of knowledge Tai Chi encompasses there is another factor to be considered: My mind relaxed and chose to believe I would benefit from these exercises but I did not decide how. Now, from a quantum point of view a formula arose: relaxed mind seeking tranquility + age old exercises proven to boost healing through motion (or energy) = decreasing pain exponentially every day.
You see the mind, with the proper discipline and in balance with the spirit self, brings about the final metamorphosis. Moreover, that change can be entirely different from expected. As a writer, I faced an increasing possibility that I would not be able to type anymore yet, I am now writing more than ever before.
Since I write from personal experience, I truly know how harsh life can be but I also know that learning the skills of redirection and heightened self-awareness are the springboards to change. All we have to do is decide on the change we want and be true to ourselves as we work on change. I call this following the quantum trail. This is when you allow yourself to be guided by an idea, a sudden job offer or just to take time for reflection. Change is essential to experiencing a 'mind shift" and the "mind shift" creates change if we do not resist it. Change will always test our flexibility and resourcefulness and our patience but there are few things worthwhile that are not challenges.
Dealing with mental illness is one of those things that will challenge patience. Knowing your enemy (mental illness) can prevent one from being caught off balance as setback emotions and thoughts creep back into your thoughts. The best way to anticipate and devise redirection skills comes because of truly understanding the disease. There are resources offer free information on mental illness. Buttressed with this knowledge you will find the modalities that will help you take back your life.
If you suffer or suspect you may be suffering from mental illness you may get information from the following resources:
International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, 60 Revere Drive, suite 500, Northbrook, IL., 60062, (847) 480-9028, www.istss.org
National Institute of Mental Health, Public Inquiries, 6001 Executive Blvd., room 8184, MSC 9662, Bethesda, MD, 20892-9663, (800) 421-4211, www.nimh.nih.gov
Sidran Foundation for Traumatic Stress, 2328 W. Jappa Rd., suite 15, Lutheranville, MD 21093, (888) 825-8249, www.sidran.org
Freedom From Fear, 308 Seaview Avenue, Staten Island, NY, 10305, (718) 351-1717
Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 6000 Executive Blvd, suite 513, Rockville, MD, 20652, (800) 737-3400
Copyright: May 17, 2006
Location: Livingston Manor, New York
Author's Profile: To learn more about Cate Cavanagh - Click HERE
Bio: Cate is an author, syndicated columnist and founder of QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY, The Science of Change. Visit catecavanagh.net where you can see her free book and free books by other authors. Please visit quantumspirituality.tripod.com for information on The Science of Change and her free newsletter, THE NEWSLETTER.
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