Showing 17 of 17 comments.
Thanks for the sanity Julie. Really well expressed. Live and let live….. <3
Hi Ekaterina, there are a group of us who’ve just formed an “Open Dialogue Champions” group. We will be lobbying and campaigning for change in the system. Two of the members are leading people in Soteria Bradford and Soteria Brighton, which is wonderful. Safe places are vital…… <3
HH, a deeply thoughtful comment – thank you! As a former communications manager (now retired), I’d recommend using terms that the audience is familiar with and your own language. That modifies what can be a dismissive or threatened response from the audience. (We all switch off when we don’t like the language, don’t we?) Thank you for your contribution…..
Hi Ekaterina, I loved your post. I had to check where you live, as I thought you were a patient in the US. Wow, so some British psychiatrists are the same as in the US: very, very close minded.
Scientifically, we share 99.99% of our DNA with each other. It’s very possible that you were Ann Frank in another life and especially possible that you were/are the Buddha. Buddhism teaches that we can obtain enlightenment, even At One Ment, through careful, diligent daily ritual and practice. These rituals change our neurons, making us deeply aware of the incredible humanity which exists in each and every one of us. And also, through this awareness, that we can overcome suffering and turn it into something which helps others.
Medication stops this process. I remember my younger brother in rehab (just 16) and how drugged up he was; the same with my father when he developed paranoid schizophrenia and had ECT and medication. He was able to return to work though.
So, throughout my visions, voices, prophetic dreams and being born again (2003), I avoided the medical profession, like a plague. I allowed it all to unfold and incubate within me and then, slowly, slowly released it into becoming the compassionate woman I yearned to be (healing childhood trauma.) Open Dialogue therapy here in the UK was fantastic and very instrumental in helping me gain this peace when my childhood trauma repeated itself again with my own family. (Thank you Dr. Razzaque and Cathy Thorley!)
In 2017, I was one of four people talking about my experience of the therapy (and the only one not admitted to hospital, despite my ‘psychosis.’) I talked about the soul, that we each have one, and that working in mental health, people need to recognise that they are doing SACRED work, helping the soul emerge. Many nodded, but after I left the stage, a psychotherapist introduced himself and told me that I must have had a spiritual emergency. I replied: “You may consider me mentally ill, but I’m actually spiritually well.” He turned around and walked away. I had a similar insult from another guy – poor, deluded individuals…..
This psychiatrist’s treatment of you is not about you: it IS about the very, very deep fear that many in the mental health profession have: that the visions and dreams and voices we hear do really exist, as we all know they do. They are utterly terrified of having a “spiritual emergency”, because who might THEY become when they are ‘awake’? They will be like us: utterly beautiful and vulnerable and totally ourselves…… <3
Dear Judy, thank you for your lovely son and wise soul, Dan. What an amazing, thoughtful and loving boy, teen and young man he was – and as a loving, soulful person, he would have been thought of as “odd,” or even “weird” in our hypercompetitive, cruel world. So very sorry to read of your loss, and I’m thankful for all you’re doing to keep his memory alive.
I was similarly sensitive, saw ghosts, had visions and prophetic dreams since I was a young girl. Fortunately, I never told anyone after my parents didn’t respond positively to my stories! (This was 1950s Britain.) The dreams disappeared for a while and then reappeared when Eric, my younger brother became a drug addict, sadly.
I tried to be normal, held down a good job for a while, but money and status were always meaningless to me. I cared for outsiders and the marginalised and longed for freedom. Once my mother died, I was able to be freer and express myself and the dreams and visions re-appeared once more.
For 20 years, I trusted that these insights – including voices – were there to help guide me to my rightful path. I had major psychosis in 2003, when I was ‘born again’, but again, things settled down and all the insights were valuable. I became kinder and more considerate, caring for Eric who by then was paranoid schizophrenic (something my father was diagnosed with in his 50s and he had ECT and drugs to control them). My younger brother had drugs and injections for the rest of his life.
Eric took his life on Good Friday 2009. I still talk to him most days – he was as sensitive as Dan, and totally aware of the huge damage we humans were doing to the environment.
Addiction appeared in my family – alcoholism. It took a big fight between husband and son to start healing it, and today things are peaceful. My son is as gentle as Eric was, and so much misunderstood. He’s held down jobs and is a trained stonemason. His compassionate nature makes him very vulnerable – which is pretty disgusting, when I think about it. My husband would prefer him “normal”, but I know that he’s fine and super-sensitive like me and Eric.
I’ve just completed 2 years of Open Dialogue treatment in the UK, and it helped put me back together again. I’m very, very fortunate that I understood, instinctively, that to talk to the medical profession about what I experienced (and continue to) would be considered insane, or psychotic. My view is that we are all innately divine, but we’ve forgotten it, and that we all have to wake up to this nature, to begin healing this fragile, shattered earth we live on.
Recently, a group of parents of young adults (many still hospitalised) formed a group to lobby in the UK for more use of Open Dialogue. So far, I’m the only ex-patient, but we hope to grow and lobby for change. Our mental health profession doesn’t understand spiritual breakthroughs: in fact, I’d say that they’re terrified of it, hence the over-medication. (In 2012, I was on low dose Sertraline for 4 months, but tapered off it, because I’d rather experience the fluctuating moods and insights than be a zombie.)
My spiritual transformation is complete. I am myself, raggedy and quiet: I am kind and listen to many, most days, and help people recover from alcohol misuse. Everything has its place and money is only the means, not the end. And peace is here now, in my heart.
Doing good and bringing hope are what matters – just like you’re doing. I’m sure, beyond doubt, that Dan would be so very, very proud of you! I hope that he comes to you in your dreams? Eric often does in mine – at peace in ways he never was on earth. Blessings, Judy.
Thanks for sharing your incredible and uplifting story, Catherine. What a journey – and how wonderful that the REAL you has come through it, and that you’ve written about it for others.
I have similar genes to you: mental illness from one parent, and alcoholism from another parent (actually a great grandparent). Also travelled a great deal as a young kid and similarly disconnected 🙁
Whilst I read widely and have been to many spiritual workshops, nothing was better than investigating my genes to understand why there was so much addiction.
In 2012, I had a breakdown, and many psychotic episodes. The nightmares were terrible and whilst I just about functioned at work, at home I was disembodied, disconnected and felt my mind biting on every single word I heard – conversations or on the TV. I went to two psychiatrists, but I didn’t trust them to help me. I wanted something deeper.
In 2014, I discovered “Open Dialogue” (the Finnish therapy), with its emphasis on letting people and their family system speak their truths whilst minimising medication. Two years later, I was accepted onto their UK wide trial for therapy (this was with the proviso I wasn’t on medication) They helped me unpick my childhood trauma, name it and come to terms with it. It was very hard and I felt very vulnerable. At last I was able to cry and feel properly after many years of numbing.
I love and appreciate my spiritual gifts, insights and the deep sense of connection I have with most people. Talking to many people on my travels, I’ve noticed that people from the global south: south America, Africa and Asia can accept and appreciate our innate spirituality, but it’s regarded with great suspicion if not cynicism by many in western Europe and the US. I see breaking down as really waking up – and those of us who have, can help others. Every blessing on your journey: may you inspire others!
Thanks Laren. A group of us have recently formed (carers of institutionalised adults who are showing progress with OD and ex-patients like me) who’ll be taking the OD message and benefits to a broader audience.
It is a blessing and a mighty privilege to sit with what emerges…. <3
Yes, Kermit, language is very restricting!
A very raw and insightful post – aaaaah, so glad you made it out the other side and had the incredible insight and resilience to trust your psyche and embark on the physical wandering it so needed, Laren! Lots of very wise comments here too.
My younger brother, Eric, was depressed and then became addicted (to cannabis, then heroin) in his early teens. He had two rehabs, but frequently tried to take his life. When on methadone (as a registered addict) in the UK, he was able to function and had happy times living with our mother after our father – who’d always scapegoated him – died. He developed paranoid schizophrenia in his late 40s and sectioned himself. I – out of 4 siblings – was the only one to stay in regular contact, partly because they were afraid of his symptoms. He took his life 9 years ago. It was his birthday on Monday, so I remembered him with a visit to Coventry where we were last happy as a family in the 1960s.
Like Eric, I had visions and heard voices. All were incredibly meaningful to me, so I felt no need to seek medical help. (I suspected I would be labelled and given drugs if I’d opened up about my experiences!)
I rejected the western view of life very early, as we were fortunate enough to live in Ethiopia for a time. That taught me about love, compassion and humility, not the ego-centric, fearful drama that goes on here in much of the west – and other countries who follow our “winner takes all” delusion.
I’ve had “psychotic” episodes since, and dark prophetic dreams which although deeply upsetting at the time, have always prepared me for tough life events to come. Latterly, I had Open Dialogue therapy to help deal with deep trauma over the poor relationship that manifested between my husband and son for a time (a repeat of my father and younger brother.) A wonderful team and therapy who accept unusual episodes as real, and having value. I found that it’s our Darkness which heals us, not the light. Many can’t accept this – especially intensely religious and spiritual people. I welcome it…..
Today, I’m very grounded and use my experiences to help others – addicts and family members – simply by sitting and listening. A great Truth begins to emerge where there is no judging, just sitting and listening. Peace to you and your family, Laren. May you continue to value these experiences as evidence of your soul emerging.
Kermit, thank you for sharing this profound wisdom and experiences. It moved me to tears. How Nature and open hearts can mesh together, bringing silence and a sense of liberation and deep acceptance.
I’ve had OD therapy in the UK for two years now. Reading Jung, listening to my voices and accepting my visions as real and meaningful meant that I was never, ever going to share my distress (not mental illness) with someone who wanted to medicate me. Russell Razzaque’s book “Breaking down is waking up” made so much sense. To be listened to, have spiritual and ancient ancestors accepted in therapy, to have a team mirroring my feelings in their feedback is like bathing in light. No water is needed, just light.
I experienced the judgement of two mental health ‘professionals’ at an OD conference in London last year after I spoke of my experience at a patient, and that therapy is, in fact, soul work. And that we all have souls, whether we choose to recognise it not. Their bombastic comments made me feel quite ill, but I was able to rebut them, and informed one that while he may see me as “mentally ill”, I was in fact spiritually well. All I ever wanted to be! It left him open mouthed!
Our ancestors knew what was needed: connection to the earth each day, families and people around us who accept and love us as we are, rather than judge us and enough work to use our skills and be of service, without exhaustion. In my heart, I hold a profound gratitude for all indigenous peoples – wisdom workers. Thank you!
A very thought provoking post and some great comments here! Out’s comments particularly resonated.
18 months ago, I attended the annual Open Dialogue conference in London, as one of four patients reporting to the audience how OD had helped. I talked about becoming mentally healthy as real soul work, and that society has lost its connection to the sacred, and to one another. My OD team were open to the sacred, which was very helpful – they also helped me appreciate that my visions and dreams (what many would call psychosis) were very healthy.
Some professionals seemed upset by what I said. When I left the stage, one approached me, introducing himself as a pychotherapist and asked whether I’d read Stanislav and Christina Grof’s book “Spiritual Emergency.” I was taken aback – where was this guy’s humanity? I told him: “you may consider me mentally ill, but I consider myself spiritually well” and left him open mouthed. As I went to sit down, another guy told me: “well, you’re very brave, a middle class woman admitting her mental health problems.”
These two guys are an example of just how far the profession needs to go – such trite comments at a mental health conference, FFS. If you don’t have humanity, why are you practising? My humanity enables me to be compassionate and connect easily with others. Perhaps those in power are terrified of being human?
Hi Ron, I will definitely submit my story, and follow the guidelines (checking it out with my therapist first.)
I was very lucky to have lived in Ethiopia in the 1960s, when my dad worked for Ethiopian Airlines. I observed ancient ways of community and sitting with. That has stayed with me through thick and thin all my life. (I wasn’t taught this by my modern, European parents, btw.) Any problems I have, I sit and allow ‘it’ to speak to me.
I agree, for some (many?), it’s unwise, if we’re not rooted in ancient customs (which is also where my faith lies, not in religion!) No need for ayahuasca, just sitting with, as Setoria and Open Dialogue so eloquently demonstrate….
Hi Auntie, I found your story fascinating and very helpful. i’ll take a look at your book too, btw!
Open Dialogue was rolled out to all NHS Trusts in April 2016. That means your GP CAN refer you to the team. The drawback is you must be able to travel to London (Barking, Essex, to be precise) to have the treatment. They are training many people in the therapy, throughout the year. As I had a 90 mile journey, each way, I’ve been able to Skype my appointments in the past year. I spoke to my main therapist who told me they’re full right now, but that may change later this year, as more are trained up.
Might be worth calling their central number and see when/if new appointments are available, via your GP: 0300 555 1200
Thanks for your views. I will definitely submit my story, as I see it’s possible to do this. Thank you, Fiachra! xx
Hi Fiachra, are you a mental health professional? Just interested in your perspective.
The whole of our NHS is in crisis, owing to successive governments the past 20 years NOT raising income tax to pay for a service which is still regarded by many as the best in the world. Incredible staff. There are private psychiatrists using the Open Dialogue methodology in the UK already, fyi.
I will definitely draft an article for Mad in America. Not sure if it will be accepted, as I have a British perspective, but it’s worth a shot! Thanks for the suggestion. xx
Ron, I’m coming to this debate very late. I’m a Brit, who’s had psychotic episodes – and what I’ve experienced is how they’ve healed and transformed me. The me I thought I was, and instead, these events pushed me to be someone much more compassionate, leading a fulfilling and meaningful life.
The psychosis also cured me of my addiction: alcohol.
One thing I absolutely avoided, even when I was most terrified and ill (but still functioning enough to work part-time) was medication, as I knew (in a gnostic sense) that the pain was trying to teach me something, if only I would sit still and listen. Sitting with it all led to the transformation on many levels.
Here in the UK, I discovered “Open Dialogue”, the therapy I’d been searching for, for 5 years. Dr. Russell Razzaque, who brought this wonderful therapy to the UK, authored a great book: “Breaking down is waking up.” That helped me see that what I’d experienced was natural and – over time – incredibly healing. I took part in their first tranche of the roll-out across the UK. One of the preconditions was that patients could not be using medication. Yes!
I can’t express in words, how utterly restorative and healing it is to be listened to and heard by a team unbound by time (my first session took 3 hours) to unpick the early childhood trauma which had led to deep depression, anxiety, and addiction. They valued my prophetic dreams (which two other therapists were dismissive of) and insights into the sacred nature of our soul. I told them that what they’re doing is sacred work: helping people rebirth their real selves. The whole, spiritual, emotional and physical person they were meant to be.
Interestingly, I spoke at their annual conference in 2017, shortly after I’d read Stanislav and Christina Grof’s book “Spiritual Emergency”. I talked about the sacred nature of our soul, and how paying attention to it, along with dreams and what appears to be synchronicity (the real way of the world, in my lived experience) heals us. Afterwards, two professionals approached me: one to tell me that I probably was mentally ill and had I read Stanislav’s book? I informed him that while he may view me as mentally ill, I’m in fact spiritually well. The other said: “well that was brave, middle class and owning up to mental illness.” I was totally stunned by these responses. There is HUGE work to be done in the profession, to put it mildly.
I’m absolutely clear: my ‘psychosis’ healed me. No medication, just sitting with it all, because I knew that most practitioners wouldn’t get it, because many aren’t open to the reality within themselves waiting to be birthed. Does the profession prefer to medicate others, because they are frightened of who THEY could become? In the coming months, I hope to help Open Dialogue roll out across the UK, because to have such quiet, non-judgmental “sitting with” sessions is astounding in its ability to birth something and someone far richer and deeper.