By Michelle Fajkus
Ten years ago, I had what can best be described as a nervous breakdown.
A “break with reality.” I “lost it,” “went insane,” and was certifiable.
In April 2005, my erratic behavior led to my being committed against my will—literally dragged by the police—to a state-run mental hospital. This was conveniently labeled a “manic episode.” A psychiatrist later told me that mine was a textbook case. I’ve written about it before, so I’ll spare you all the grisly details here.
On my honeymoon in Colombia in 2013, life’s twists and turns led me to another manic episode. Fortunately, because it was situational, the mania dissolved as soon as the situation was resolved. It was a trial for my brand new marriage; ultimately, it made our relationship stronger and more able to weather the inevitable storms of intimate partnership.
As January 2015 was careening to an end, a troublesome situation related to my job as a school teacher sparked another experience, which, for the sake of simplicity, we could also call a manic episode.
In 2005, I was on MySpace. Facebook had not entered the collective consciousness. I had Gmail and used it to send cryptic emails such as:
“sorry guys. i can’t be responsible for this. i’m sure to be on a bender downtown tonight tho so give me a call on the cellie if you wanna meet up. laterz, shelly”
I reached out for help and felt ignored or shunned.
Mania makes a person believe they are the center of the universe and no one else matters as much. Mania makes everything seem like the number one priority. Mania makes everything feel intense, extreme and fast.
Mania is the opposite of depression.
I was taken off Lithium in 2009 under the supervision of a qualified psychiatrist about the same age as me, also named Michelle. I now use natural medicines including—but not limited to—yoga, mindfulness, exercise, lavender and Valerian root.
This past January, however, everything came to a head. I made some mistakes which I regret, and others which I don’t. I am now grieving the loss of my livelihood, my community and, especially, my precious students.
As a result of recent email and Facebook activity, some folks are concerned for my mental health. Namely, my mother. My dad and my husband are both under the impression that I’m okay; I am too. I know myself well, and I know how my mind works. I will reach out for help when I need it, and I will curl up alone in my little cave when I need to do that
I am getting better.
I am surrounded by advocates and friends. I am healing. I am moving on, letting go, seeing which doors will now open, and taking part in all the other clichés which are clichés because they’re true.
For better or worse, my mania has been a rather public experience. It has also been enlightening.
Michelle Margaret Fajkus is the founder of Yoga Freedom and co-creator of EnlightenEd. She is a 30-something gringa Gemini in Guatemala where she lives with her life partner, daughter and black cat. Michelle learned hatha yoga from a book at age 12 and found Buddha in California at 23. Read her books, or come down for a retreat! Connect with Michelle on Google+ or Facebook.
Editor Alicia Wozniak