Friday, May 21, 2010

My Right Hand ~ The Deep Teachings Present In The Healing Process...

The Back Side. I'll spare you the picture
of the palm and fingers cut, bruised, and
stitched. And my Dragonfly totem is with
me to see me through...

First of all, I must tell you that I am right handed and I am currently only able to hunt and peck with my left hand and now -- and quite gingerly at that -- the index finger of my wounded hand. I can't do it too long or it hurts being connected to the middle finger which is stitched at the base going round to the ring finger side. The tip of the ring finger could have been cut clean off and is quite nasty. But as my body opened and the blood flowed profusely, I was carried downstream in this river that was not blood but the beginning of a long overdue shamanic journey and a very important one at that for many reasons. Today, in pain and knowing that it will take a frustrating amount of time to heal, I am filled with gratitude for all of the teachings that are now very present and necessary for this time in my life, and my life is about to change radically, in a very good way. It wouldn't have happened had I not plunged straight down into broken glass, but sometimes we have to break a window to get in, or out, sometimes it won't open on it's own. 

I must also include another aside here. I am about to discuss a drug I have been taking long-term, 8 years, for a severe anxiety disorder. I will not name the drug and my reason for writing about this is just to share my experience, not to advise anyone to take or not take any medication at any dose for any length of time. That is between you and your doctor. The medication is one that was needed at the time and served it's purpose, but in the end as the dosage was increased, and the years went by, I experienced a serious disconnect with my body. Again, I am a lay person simply sharing my story.

For over thirty years I have been in and out -- more in than out -- of therapy for a childhood filled with experiences I need not speak of. We all have our wounds and no matter what they are when they are ours we must find our own way to heal, with the help of medical professionals or other naturopathic doctors (or whomever you see for your health care needs). As a young married woman I had a nervous breakdown after barely a year of marriage and ended up in the hospital for a month on tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressant medication, and more. Just after getting out of the hospital I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. I was so terrified being that those first precious weeks of pregnancy when the wee tiny fertilized egg is growing into a person, I was taking drugs that could severely impact my baby's health and growth. I went off of all of my medication cold turkey and was seen several times a week by my psychiatrist because he were so concerned about my mental state, just out of the hospital and now, so quickly, off of the medication. The whole experience shook me to my core, and despite my fragile nature and ongoing clinical depression, and the fact that, in my child-bearing years I could again inadvertently be taking medications that might have an adverse affect on my babies, I stayed off of any medication and was carefully watched by doctors. 

I had my three children by the age of 29, but then I nursed each baby for a long period and couldn't take meds while nursing. I was hanging on by my fingernails at times, but the welfare of my little ones was the most important thing. For two decades I would touch no medication at all, much to the chagrin of my doctors who saw me have two more breakdowns and being so fragile I was practically transparent. They begged me to take drugs. I would not.

In 1993, on the cusp of my 40th birthday, and in terrible shape, I went on an anti-depressant that I stayed on, with a 2 year break half way through, until the last few months. It helped, but in 2002 I had another breakdown and had to go on two more meds. Eventually I would be medicated for Bi-Polar disorder as well, but as my nights were full of nightmares and I could not sleep. I was given a mild sleeping aid that I only took on hard nights, but with my increasingly elevating panic attacks, and diagnosis of PTSD, as well as moving closer and closer to the edge of full blown agoraphobia, I was given a common anti-anxiety drug that helped so much for the past eight years that I did not question the need to take it, nor did I think anything of it when the dosages were increased because my body was developing ongoing tolerance to it the longer I stayed on the drug. I have always been very cautious about medication, only taking the minimum amount, and the prescription would often last for 2 months, but still there was an ongoing stream of medication in my body and it was having a serious effect on my physical balance in this world, causing numerous falls and injuries, some serious, which were, unbeknownst to me, a side effect of the drug.

My lesson is that we, many of us, have to take medication, but we need also to do our own research and watch our body's signals and work with our health care providers very mindfully and not just pop pills as directed without even thinking of the ramifications to our bodies. I have had a number of serious injuries because I was not listening to my own body or questioning the drugs I was taking. Some I will always have to take, my Bi-Polar medication which gives me a balance and normalcy, as much as I can have, in a world where I have spent my life in the middle of a see-saw watching each end go up and down, up and down, up and down, being swept away into sometimes cyclonic states that only another Bi-Polar person can understand, I will always have to take. My medication has balanced my life and made me more whole and for that I will not only be forever grateful that after nearly 30 years in therapy I was properly diagnosed. Finally, there was a proper name put on the seesaw, and with the right medication my life changed dramatically. But...

There was a push-pull in my life that made me increasingly panicky, unable to sleep almost at all, more withdrawn than ever, and it happened during my mother's five year battle with cancer that finally ended her earthly journey this past December. The dosage of the drug was raised, and while it calmed me I became less and less in touch with my physical body taking more and more falls. As I had gained a lot of weight and already had compromised my feet by serious surgery that left me with a wonky unbalanced walk, I chalked it up to those things when I kept falling, including falling down a staircase and breaking both feet so badly I was in two casts for 6 months, then a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane ... it was one year before I could walk again. And the hits just kept coming.

I moved into my new home the first week in February and I cannot begin to count the number of times I have fallen both inside and out. Once I went down so hard on one side on my tile kitchen floor I was afraid to  move for fear something was broken, and the whole right side of my body was badly bruised for weeks. Still I chalked it up to my feet, and even though I have lost about 75 pounds I still have quite a way to go so I still considered the weight a factor. Talk about walking around with blinders on.

Too, for sometime, after decades of writing for magazines and newspapers, having had 3 small presses, and written a number of books, I couldn't finish anything, and any creative project I took on, or something as simple as housework, I was not able to stay focused enough to do. With a lifetime of clinical depression the fact that my writing and my art, which I could no longer get a handle on, and which have always been my life's blood and kept me going through the worst of times, was disappearing into the mists. I was becoming more and more profoundly depressed and cut myself even further off from the world. I despaired that I would never have a creative productive life, and for someone who has the history I have had, including suicidal thoughts, I was treading in very dangerous territory. And then I hurled to the ground last Sunday night and cut myself to pieces. I've never seen so much blood and my right/writing/art producing/working hand was rendered unusable, at least for several weeks ahead of me. As I plummeted to the ground for one brief moment, a mere blink in time, I saw the dragonfly tattoo on the back of my right hand, but then lost the memory in a pool of blood with my daughter and son-in-law rushing about getting towels and getting me into the car to head to the Emergency room.

It was 2 days before I really looked at my tattoo again, and I sat in awe and wonder because at the same time my closest friend who had worked for 20 years in the hospital consulted one of his doctor friends who immediately questioned the long-term use of the anti-anxiety medication. On further study I found that the drug not only causes an instability in the body and falls are common, but it also dulls the mind and all in one instant the fact that I was always falling and unable to do my precious work had a name. It was decided, with the advice of one doctor and a consultation with my own, that I needed to come off of this drug completely. I have been on it for so long I have to be carefully monitored as the decrease happens in increments every 2 weeks and it will take 8 weeks to get me off of the drug completely, but all of a sudden I felt a strength and a sense of hope and joy that I didn't know I would ever feel again. I was not in a hopeless body that would be constantly falling down causing worse and worse injuries as time went by, and my creativity would rise up from a deep well. I wept with a kind of release and relief I have not felt in too many years to count. I will be alright.

Throughout this whole journey my dragonfly totem has been leading me, as dragonflies do as totems, out of the darkness and into the light, taking me through a metamorphic journey that will, very soon, allow me to fly, not fall. My tattoo is a beacon of light and hope and remembrance. I meditate on it, and my heart lifts. The large dragonfly flys over a full moon amidst the swirling cosmos around it in a sky twinkling with stars. He can see everything from his vantage point. I am beginning to see a great deal more from mine.

For the time being I prefer to look at the back side of my hand rather than my palm and fingers that are all cut and stitched up. Stitches, no matter how minor the injury might have been in the whole scheme of things, have always made me embarrassingly squeamish, but they too have a part in the story. As a metaphorist I see everything in metaphors. The profuse bleeding caused quite a lot of blood to flow out, in a cleansing way, and seeing my stitched hand and fingers, I realize that I can be healed and whole in my own way, and, like my dragonfly tattoo, the scars on my hand will be marks of remembrance. I must remember to stay in touch with my body, to live mindfully in it, and to realize that there are many other natural treatment modalities that can help me ease anxiety while keeping me upright on the ground and at work both writing and doing my art. 

Again, I share this story with you not out of pity or remorse but as an awakening, and the knowledge that we can always find new ways to live and be as long as we are alive. May we all follow our hearts, the bright light within, and seek to follow our spiritual path, whatever that might be for any of us, as a steadying force in our lives.

I wish, for each of you, health and wholeness in mind, body, and soul, and will continue to share with you, through the series of books I am working on, the continuous, conscious journey that I am on, in hopes that it might help others. If even one person is touched or helped by what I have to share, I am deeply blessed. We are not here alone. If I don't do well out in the world, I give from the deepest part of my being through my writing and art. May my work be a vehicle of peace, hope, light, love, and joy. This I pray.

Now my hand is asking you to beg our pardon. It is telling me it has had more than enough for today, and, hidden under the dragonfly, where it can rest in a cocoon and heal, it will continue to teach me through this long healing process more than I know I can imagine in this moment. The veil has been lifted for me, my world comes into clearer focus each day. 


Laane said...

You have been through such a lot, that I wonder if you sense the enormous strength that always sounds in your posts.

I've seen quite some people getting worse from medication against the worst states of mind.
When they were able to live without they also could get in touch with their own healing power.

I hope the same happens to you.

Ruth said...

So glad to hear you're starting to heal and getting off the bad medication. I turned 40 on Sunday and (accidentally typed "hand" there first, how's that for a Freudian slip?) have been waffling back and forth between feeling old and useless and thinking "hey, they say life begins at 40, it can only get better from here".

(((((HUGS))))) Hope your healing goes well!

Victoria SkyDancer said...

I bathe your hand in healing light and see it strong and whole again, now holding firmly your writing pen, now flicking fingers upon your keyboard. Your hand is healed in Beauty...and so it is! :-)

Blessed Be,

Lily Arbee said...

My dearest Maitri,
Thanks so much for sharing your good and bad experiences in life with us. It is good to share with those who want to be your true friends, who are willing to listen. I believe by sharing them to a group of loving and caring people, you are bound to receive their honest and sincere feedback together with kind words of inspirations and opinions. Sometimes, this in a way would make your day after realizing that after all there are still good caring people around out there who are willing to contribute their good thoughts, opinions and advice's as well. And at the same time, we all will learn through each other experiences as a guide for a better life and all could also learn to avoid the mistakes already experienced with your kind advises.

I have experienced the dark and ugly past life as a child and even during my teen and as an adult. I am still going through many challenges which I believe by now many might have given up if they were in my shoes!

I have 28 cats and 1 kitten to feed everyday and I am doing it with my life saving!

The greatest love of all is to love ourselves first, I know that, but I still do what I can in my capability and power to help some animal which need a helping hands badly. Therefore, I have to make sure I am not sick or worried even though living in this insecured situation, especially with lack of monthly income. I managed to get few students coming in to learn English every Friday morning since it's a public holiday here in this corner of the world, in the east coast of Malaysia. I am still trying to look up for job in the capital city Kuala Lumpur and in the meantime I am still trying to get more students coming in to join my tuition class trying to earn a living here. I teach them based on very good guide books.

Whatever happened in life, the past or the present, in order to be saved, we must not forget to focus on: healthy mind and healthy body because only with healthy mind and healthy body we can strive to do wonders in life even in the worst of situation!

I have not been ill for the past many years ever since I took very good food supplement religiously daily. I am not trying to promote to you this product, but it really works wonders on me. Imagine, I am taking care of 28 cats and 1 kitten and with an unstable income and my saving going down and down each day! I need to be strong and have lot of energies and tolerances and a stable stage of mind to do the daily hard work like cleaning their shelter etc even though I am not the right person to continue taking care of them!

I like you to be very healthy in body and mind since you are so precious to me and to many others and also because you are truly a good person with great qualities and with many talents.

When you are free, please just surf these website(s) provided below to get to know more on the supplements which has kept me so fit and healthy to these days. Beside taking "intra" I am also drinking a lot of water and taking milk and oats in the morning, and also developing positive thinking no matter what happened.

I will always look at the bright side of life and will keep on challenging myself with whatever it takes to turn my life around for a better living! With God's willing, perhaps with all the positive thinking I will soon succeed.

Out on the prairie said...

Buddha found that life was not understood without experiencing suffering as part of spiritual growth.It sounds silly to many who take this path and never seem to find an end.Eat this mushroom and it will make you small in Lewis Carrol often reminds me how doctors perceive some problems with meds, instead of looking at a more holistc approach as a cure.

Witchie's Place said...

As I read your blog, my heart cried for all the suffering you've endured throughout your life, and yet at the same time, celebrated that you had the courage to change what needed to be changed.

So many people suffer from day to day, some more than others. I enjoy reading your posts because your goodness shines through with each and every one and gives not only myself, but I'm sure others, much hope and light in their lives as well.

Keep the light in your heart, Ms. Maitri, for you are more than just a gifted writer to many of us, you are so much more!

May your healing be speedy! Blessed Be, Witchie!

Lily Arbee said...

Dearest Maitri,
How are you today? It's a beautiful Sunday here in Malaysia now. Hope you are getting better.

Bill and Carol Colborm are now in North Carolina, I believe this a place where you are living, right? How nice if they drop by to give you a surprise visit at your lovely Dragonfly Cottage. Both are so adventurous and are travelling he world! They are lucky, aren't they, always looking for excitement and new discoveries.

I see your badge up in your blog.

Have a beautiful Sunday and try to be gentle to hand too, don't write too much yet, let it heal first, ok?

Much love and hugs from a friend in the East.

Sharkbytes said...

Oh, I hope you heal quickly, but hand injuries are SO annoying.

Carol Sue said...

Oh, Maitri.... I cried as I read your post. I too, turned 40 in 1993, and a lot of the rest of your story was mine too. I never heard anyone tell it like you do. Maybe because I never heard another BiPolar person tell it? You give me hope and strength and courage.

May your healing be speedy. Blessings,

Jean said...

I relate to your story in several ways. Thanks for sharing it. Wishing you a smooth recovery. Blessed Be!

Michelle said...

What a beautiful post! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this and how much insight I gained. Thank you for that and I hope you heal quickly :)

Jodi said...

I am glad to hear it is healing Maitri. I know all about medications. I am on so many for my back problems and depression it's unreal. But my Dr;'s do moderate them very well and so do I. I also have high blood pressure so I have to take that as well. But I have my days where the meds hit me just right and I have to go lay down. I hope you get to feeling better very soon my love.

God bless,

Lily Arbee said...

Hi Maitri,
How are you today? Hope you are getting better. I just want to break to you the good news. God is great, I was dead worried about how to go on feeding my cats including so many abandoned cats with me. In fact, today like it or not, I picked up another tiny kitten thrown near my house. The good news is since my saving is down at a very critical stage, suddenly with God's grace, I got a job offer in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur meaning sooner or later, I will be moving back there for good! I will still rent this house and hire two reliable people to look after my cats at the shelter, only one will come daily and if the other is sick, the other one will come to feed my cats, empty their litters and clean the shelter & so on. I will only rent a room first in KL and when I am there I will find a good place myself before I bring in all my belongings and take my cats with me, some I have to give people and only at the last resort I will send the balance of the rescued cats to the shelter home because I need to stay in an apartment for safety with safety guard at the front gate as you I am living alone. It is dangerous to rent a house in KL these day if staying alone!

Hope you will be back to normal and your hand fully cured soon! Wishing you all the good luck, God bless you always.

Hugs always,

Fisher and Staff said...

Beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and bright outlook on your future.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

I have just recently had a son prescribed Prozac and looking through my medical books was a bit concerned at the possible side effects. I, too, never took anything harmful during my pregnancies or childbirth. I had all four children natural not wanting to introduce anything into their fragile systems. I write at a number of sites, and researched and wrote an article about alternative medicine for stress and anxiety disorders. He has found these helpful and has decided against the prescribed meds.

I love your blog. It is beautiful, honest, inspiring... Thanks for visiting mine.

Take care & God bless.

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