Hello friends and other interested parties. My name is Ekaterina. I was born in Russia during the year of the dragon (according to Chinese wisdom), month of cancer (according to astrology). Currently we are in the year of the rat, characterised by the global coronavirus pandemic, which gives a message: start taking care of the rats instead of chasing them, and I hope that the humanity will arrive at this conclusion, since all animals are sacred.
I have the tendency to think in mystical terms, you see.
Officially, it was still a year of stagnation of the old Soviet Union, but I can confirm from lived experience that I was born in a beautiful land: RUSSIA.
I was a seeker from the moment I was born. I was lying in my cot and always observing, seeing magic everywhere that no one else could see. At the age of three, just to give you a good example, I saw the devil for the first time, staring at me from the window. I wasn’t really scared, just little bit surprised, and his view was magnificent: just how he is usually described in scary books and movies. A monster, but a gorgeous one. I remember my parents telling me that it was all my imagination, but when I saw the devil for the first time, I said to myself: he is real, and what you see is real too.
My own story of beauty and the beast continued all my life: you can read about my encounters with the devil on my blog: www.russianpatient.com, as well as about my diagnosis of “bipolar,” inflicted on me when I was 27. But if “bipolar” is what I am, then I was blessed with this condition since the moment I was born. I had a vivid imagination, always wanting to connect with the sky. I remember walking to school, and looking up. What is there, I kept on asking myself? Surely, there is more to our reality than what is presented as the absolute objective truth?
Officially my diagnosis came after my second “psychosis.” Apparently, psychiatry has a script to follow: if you are “psychotic” more than once, then a diagnosis of “bipolar” or “schizophrenia” is assigned to the already distressed patient. Personally, I prefer “schizophrenia” as a diagnosis, as it’s the one that gives psychiatry any legitimacy: that’s the one they will never understand, and they shouldn’t. My second psychiatrist gave me the diagnosis of “schizophrenia” at first but later on it was changed to “bipolar.” I found the debate about my diagnoses both interesting and draining, especially since what they define as “psychosis” is a beautiful experience on my part.
I see angels, I talk with God. I meet with the devil; each time, he appears in a different form. I have strong, powerful visions, I am your modern shaman. I communicate with birds and other animals, but I am definitely a cat queen, and the master of seagulls. I lucid-dream very often, where I sometimes become a fairy and try to make this world a better place. That’s what bothers me the most each day: how to make out of this earth a paradise, instead of misery we see everywhere—such as wars, September Eleventh, fights among the religions, poverty, hunger, distressed children. How? How, indeed, to make it all again beautiful, equal for everyone and unique? How to transform the planet earth into a place of beautiful magic, so that Jesus, when he returns, can walk here in peace and glory?
The above statements are defined by the psychiatry as “delusional thinking,” if you are interested to know.
After receiving my diagnosis, I noticed a peculiar thing. There is a terrible stigma attached to the condition. Depression appears to be accepted now, but don’t you dare to be little bit “schizo,” such as “bipolar,” “having schizophrenia,” or god bless, “personality disorder.” It seems to me (that’s paranoia speaking) that psychiatry does it on purpose. They say they are trying to “help” you, but if you read the definitions attached to the above psychiatric conditions, then you will notice a contradiction. It can’t be helped. It’s written that it’s chronic. It’s written that it is life threatening. It is written that people with such “conditions’” lead a miserable life and die earlier.
It is simply depressing, and awfully sad. Why is it such a “crime” to dance naked under the stars, communicate with nature, and see angels? Why are we punished with diagnoses, and then punished even more when we refuse to accept the medical model of looking at human experiences? You might risk being accused as a non-compliant, or accused of being a scientologist, as I was at some point—which made me, obviously, curious about scientology; not that I even know how to join it and become a member. A couple of scientologists I met were very nice people, though.
Why is it such a “crime” to explore alternative realities, and look for something beyond our totally medicalized society? In some cultures, one would be revered instead, and not locked away. To change our current status quo would entail fighting with big companies and psychiatry as an institution, and a few individuals who see beyond the rule of Big Pharma and psychiatry as an institution to control human behaviour have little chance of success. But I do hope it will change one day, or that at least, I, in my personal life, will be able to exit the narrative.
In my own personal life, I achieved lots of beautiful things with the label of “bipolar” hanging behind my back. I have one bachelor’s diploma, two master’s degrees, with one of them being executive (recognised as MBA), a PhD in philosophy, and fluent, excellent knowledge of four languages: Russian, French, English, and Dutch. I lived in four countries, in two of them twice, worked in finances as an analyst and portfolio manager in Amsterdam, as an interpreter and headhunter in Brussels, as a university teacher in Belgium, The United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. I am also a mother, where I try to be at my absolute best, since my son is my biggest achievement, my greatest joy.
Dealing with stigma around the diagnoses is a terrible thing. You are constantly moving with a scarlet letter attached to your back. In the Middle Ages we were burnt at the stake; in the current age, we suffer in silence in psychiatric institutions, which we can never really leave, even if “officially” discharged, because of the diagnosis. It follows you everywhere, in our corrupted Western hemisphere, like a rat that never received any love. I, obviously, removed the label from my own head, but it is still somewhere, in the notes of the deluded psychiatrists. I used to collect their notes, reading what they wrote about me. I stopped at some point and started to write my own notes, my own story. I have a book I almost finished writing by now, and share my notes on my website. I experience my “psychosis” with some pride, you see.
Still, even if the diagnosis is removed by oneself, and of course, you are allowed to do it (why not? Did they show you any physical test showing that you are ill?), one needs to be extra careful. One is always vulnerable after ending up at some point in psychiatry. For myself, I do take some medication (I can’t afford to stop it, where I am now), I make sure I sleep, I try to follow some routine. Routine is important as it keeps one grounded, when the head has the tendency to fly in the oasis of magical thinking. I try to walk, and listen to birds, I eat well, I indulge in a nice cup of coffee, in a nice glass of red sweet wine on some evenings. Vaping instead of smoking also helps me. I listen to nice music, mostly to either Taylor Swift or Robbie Williams, I cook meals for my son, I love my work when I teach. I continue to write.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.