When I took my 17,000 mile road trip in 2008, I called it a “Shamanic Car Quest” upon my return. The phrase summarized my experience: being thrown into a world full of meaning, or a search for meaning in a sea of meaning, though it was all about the modern world. I’ve never written about this trip, except in passing. What I will say is that my experiences with psychosis, now ranging in seven breaks from reality (really, I’ve lost count) seem to be distilling themselves into a more concise story. It’s a story of Fact and Myth.
Let me begin by saying I am 1/16 Lakota; my paternal grandfather’s mother was 100% Lakota. When my great grandmother was young, Native American children were separated from their parents and sent to Christian schools where they were stripped of their identity and given Christian names. Around the 1920s, it was shameful that one be Native American here in America, and my grandfather’s siblings all shunned their mother’s ancestry and never spoke of it. The only person interested in the religious aspects or the culture of Native Americans was my grandfather, who kept meticulous and rich scrapbooks from his youth.
So, in short, this is my family history. I say in short because there is a lot missing to the story.
This past psychosis in May I started hearing nature sounds (aside from birds talking). One day, while driving by my grandfather’s old house, I started to hear a huge swarm of birds as I got closer and closer. I rolled down my window to figure out the source of the sound, because it first presented as a beautiful, loud buzzing or stirring of the air. As I passed each alley, the sound of an active flock would swell as I approached and shrink away as I passed the next alley. This continued for at least a mile and disappeared one or two blocks past his house. At the time all I could think was, “What does this mean?” Unable to come to an answer, I went home and continued on with my day.
Other, strange events have been happening, like hearing mice in my ear or hearing the wind talk in the trees. The nature sounds are a sharp departure from the motors, fans, and fridge talking. For one, there are no words (obviously) and two, these sounds are easier to hear over the long term.
As the story goes in my head, this legacy of magic has skipped a generation will now only go to the women in the family because the men misused it, which is part of the family history I passed over. Part of what I am hearing, for I am still hearing voices as well as noises, is that it is best not to talk (even think) about the mundane aspects of life while walking in the spirit world, or as Western Science would call it, “while I am delusional”. There are practical aspects as well because my mind isn’t altogether functioning in a strait line. So this thinking then led me to the saying in my prior post: Live Your Myth. Walk Your Reality. It is still necessary to take care of my day-to-day chores, I just should not plan or fret about mundane life during this time.
Another theme that was prominent in this “psychosis” (and I put that in quotes because I am truly questioning the nature of my experiences now) was to not spiritualize events, but to allow them to be as they are, experiences. The idea being is that the shaman walks the spirit world all the time; the shaman lives her myth.
Some schizophrenics develop detailed delusions with overarching themes, so this could all be viewed as the continued degenerative nature of my disease. Part of this, however, is foregoing the Western explanation of events. I don’t feel I am degenerating, on the contrary, I seem to be more grounded. I am going to try and live my experiences without the encumbering (or dismissive) explanations. “Oh, that’s a hallucination.” “I’m delusional.” These sorts of self-reflective definitions seem limiting. At the same time, I am going to continue on with my medications and treatment and not throw myself head-first into unreality because, quite frankly, I disconnect quite easily.