'Loosing your mind' is a funny thing what I mean by that is all your boundaries, thoughts and feelings get jumbled up. When you come through the end of it you are transformed. I have found so many gems in the darkness. One of the biggest gifts this time around is a renewed sense of love, respect and compassion for my family especially my mum and dad.
Consistently we use familiar 'routes' of association within our brains and when you are plunged into darkness whilst 'going down the rabbit hole' you have an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and explore new areas. You have an opportunity to realize what is and isn't working in your life and focus on what is most important, which becomes evident once the superficial and superfluous is swept away. I found myself creating bleak, discordant and challenging art at this time. It was hard to be motivated to paint or write but I found it was necessary to express myself in creative form to get some relief from the toxic and suffocating darkness/negativity I was feeling. There was the inner me teeming with thoughts, black moods and inner criticism then there was me the mute who found it hard to express anything and felt like trying to be positive was a failure too.
Jung said we don't become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the dark conscious. The ultimate breakthrough I had was realizing I could let go of the sea of negativity and fear which was consuming me and realize there was no 'framework' to hold on to anymore. By framework I mean repetitive thought structures which were keeping me captive. I realized that there was no past, present or future within my conscious framework and when I realized I could let go and saw the 'mind matter' for what it was along came the memory of a sacred dream I experienced long ago. In this significant dream from childhood I was a young Maori woman swimming across a body of water in the dark to reach my beloved on the other side. This was fine for a while but when the fear of bottomless dark and unknown beneath came over me the sheer terror and fear of this was overwhelming. When it seemed hopeless and at the bleakest point an orange, glow spread from underneath and filled my whole body with love. It looked like home, peace, transcendence, beauty, intuition, synchronicity and God all within the beautiful orange energetic light. It lifted me up and filled me with profound spiritual love. This dream represents to me the love which emanates from the creative source through all things which can be found when there is nothing left, when your fears become so overwhelming they are cancelled out by the love of the creator.
However life carries on and there is a constant case of sifting the sand in 'panning for gold', letting the negative thoughts pass through whilst you retain hope when you flnd glitters of truth. It is a bit like osmosis where eventually the positivity/light/hope is evenly distributed between your past, present and future. When you are processing the throes of darkness again it is hard to see past the negative filter but some things help. Talking out loud to people is an important process of finding solutions and distilling issues in your mind. Some things which help me in no particular order are....tea, music, my cat, poetry, painting, walking in nature and connecting with people.
One thing I have learned, through my experience of bipolar, is that after a dark period always comes the breakthrough of illumination. It is a positive time of balance and harmony where you discover the purpose and meaning behind your suffering and truths become clear. It is a bit like reshuffling a deck of cards then laying them out and making sense of all the connections especially if they are tarot cards and you are reading symbolism and imagery.
They say patience is a virtue, it's something I'm still learning about, and it's patience you employ when you are making interior 'darkness conscious'. Part of this process is feeling your way in the dark and realising light best comes when you learn to help yourself. You learn to embrace inner strength, intuition, faith, hope and perseverance which help you to access insight and the discovery of truth in your life.
One day the sun comes out, things slot into place and you find you have shed your skin and you are now living lighter, healthier, stronger with more emotional strength and depth and your complicated brain has found purpose through illumination which could only come through a dark night of the soul.