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Things I struggle to talk about – Coming back down to earth

Things I struggle to talk about – Coming back down to earth

I am known for being a bit of an oversharer.  I love it that way, I want people to know who I really am.  But lately I have found that I have some walls up.  And that feels a little bit strange.  But I am going with it and being kind to myself.  I think I am just going to need a bit of time and that is okay.  Those who know me well would tell you I am doing great and am back to my down to earth, sensible (ish) and caring self.  But whilst I feel a sense of peace, gratitude and contentment, there is a part of me that is still pretty confused.  What on earth happened?!!  What was real?  How do I really feel?

Back in May 2022 I went to the GP.  I was concerned as I wasn’t sleeping well.  I was scared about the prospect of going into a state of mania, having experienced this for the first time in early 2020.  The Doctor told me that I looked well and not to worry.  I was prescribed some sleeping tablets.  They didn’t work.  Looking back now, I should have called the crisis team and got something much stronger to calm my anxiety and help me sleep.  A week later, I remember sitting round for dinner with the family, feeling terrified inside.  I knew I didn’t have long.  I could feel it.  I was starting to spiral.  I had severe paranoia and I just couldn’t settle.  My mind was racing and wired.  This happens when we don’t sleep.  As my mind was shutting down, I went super high.  I could feel pure love and angels all around me.  I felt light.  I felt spirit guides sending me all sorts of messages.  I felt God.  Music sounded incredible.  I felt like I was being fully protected, which was so needed given the fact my mind had been going to such dark places.  Over the years, I have been able to wellness my way out of stress or anxiety attacks.  I have found some incredible tools and they work well.  But when a mental illness takes over, all those toolkits go out of the window.  Somewhere inside me I knew that I just had to hold on tight and ride it out.  At times, it’s kind of like another person in your body, ruling the show.

Many of you will know that I have spent a lot of time studying emotional, mental and spiritual health.  I have interviewed psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, consultants and spoken extensively about scary topics such as hallucinations vs spirituality.  Back in 2006 at a full moon party in Thailand, I experienced a bit of a trip on magic mushrooms.  It was lots of fun.  I knew those were drug induced hallucinations.  I have also experienced drug free spiritual experiences when I have been well.  But I do believe that genuine spiritual experiences can be written off when someone is mentally unwell.  I don’t think it is as black and white as that.  I was surprised that lots of psychiatrists have agreed and suggested that it is important that we keep an open mind.  Well, that is definitely something I find easy to do.  I do think that when the mind isn’t working properly that we get an advantage of more insights into the spiritual world.  There are things that happened that cannot be explained.  Some pretty mind blowing stuff that I don’t want to believe were hallucinations.  I guess it’s like if you were going to a psychic or medium and they tell you all kinds of mind blowing things that they simply couldn’t be making up.  You feel excited and 100% know in your heart it’s real, even if others call you crazy.  Or you come out of an Ayahuasca ceremony, a changed human.

Over the years, I have discovered so much research about our ego and how it is linked to our mental health.  The ego is often perceived as the enemy. Psychedelics are now so popular due to the fact they shrink our ego.  Sign up to a mindfulness course and you will learn that the ego is the source of many of our problems.  When you go into mania, the ego goes out the window.  Which is why the experience has so many similarities to the process of spiritual enlightement.  Boundaries change and they differ from person to person.  This suits the spiritual world but it doesn’t suit ‘normal’ life on earth.  It’s not normal to say whatever you think, even if you are confused and talking in riddles.  It’s not normal to share extreme paranoia.  It’s not normal to talk about angels.  It’s not normal to believe all your hopes and dreams will come true within a few months.  It’s not normal to share obsessive thoughts.  It’s not normal to be unable to take any criticism or challenge.  It’s not normal to walk around naked (I didn’t do this but I hear it is common).  Of course, like physical illness, everyone will have a different experience of it.  After the initial scary few days of paranoia, I felt a sense of joy and hope for the future.  There were parts of that ‘high’ person I loved.  She was fearless, energetic, direct, brave and full of confidence in herself.  She would dance for hours.  She was so much fun, she had something about her. But she was also a little lost and broken.  I just want to go back and cuddle her.  She needed that.

I used to think that there was always a trigger for mental illness.  I’m inquisitive, I like looking for patterns.  And over the years I have found many patterns.  Just like an unhealthy diet and regular smoking can cause heart disease, there are many things that can impact our mental health.  But like physical health, sometimes things just happen.  A couple of my closest friends were convinced I would never experience mania again because my recovery was textbook and I was following all my toolkits.  A week before it happened, I was in a really happy place, feeling fired up, creative and calm.

I love being a big feeler.  I get really excited.  I am gushy and I love a good cry.  Big feelers are vulnerable.  I don’t want to be ‘normal’.  But I do want to be well.  So I think this time I will stick with the medication, praying that it gives me the anchor I need when it’s time to sail.

Jojo Fraser - scottish presenter and blogger

Jojo Fraser is an award-winning mental health researcher, author, podcaster and keynote speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate.   She is a Tedx speaker and a regular contributor on BBC radio.  Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental, emotional and spiritual health, making it accessible and relatable to all.  She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people.

Connect with her across social @jojofrasermojo

Instagram (the old account was hacked)

Listen to her Tedx talk about the power of removing our masks.

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