Hi. My name is Jasmine, and I suffer from crippling anxiety and panic attacks. I fall well within the realm of having a panic disorder, a number of phobias and something called existential death anxiety. Sometimes I feel the world contracting in on me. Over the past year or so, my panic attacks have taken on a whole new series of symptoms. However, unlike many people in Western society who experience these things, I refuse to medicate. In fact, I have an irrational fear of Western medicine. Medication phobia, also known as pharmacophobia, is a fear of the use of pharmacological treatments. I’ve been in a full blown meltdown in the emergency room many times and had to be restrained in order for them to hook me up to an IV of Ativan, all because I was terrified my body would react poorly and my daughter would be left without a mother - clearly, nothing about this seems rational… and yet it actually does when you realize medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Tonight I found myself being an obsessive hypochondriac, not uncommon for me, and reached out to friends who can relate. The first friend’s response was, “Want to drink tea with me?” and the second friend’s response was, “Do you want me to come over? I have calming tea.” And there I found immediate comfort: I have loving and compassionate friends, and tea is clearly the answer. I’m now spraying myself with rosewater like a lunatic, listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Bibo no Aozora" on repeat (thanks to another dear friend’s suggestion) and cradling a steaming mug of fennel tea in my lap. Suddenly I feel immensely grateful for the humans I know and have grown to love. If I was left to my own thoughts, I’d surely think myself into the grave…and that’s not the sort of grounding I’m looking for. Being of a highly analytical mind and an overwhelmingly sentimental heart, I believe this is a challenging combination to exist with… throw a child into the mix and suddenly I’m losing my mind over how long I’ll live in order to see her grow and to make sure she’s well taken care of and protected from the psychotic state the world is in right now.
I dream of the day I have a homestead. I feel a good portion of my worries would be lifted and I’d be free to teach my daughter what it really means to be a human... free of societal pressures and political exploitation, free of wage labor and restrictive rules and regulations. It’s forcing our children into precocious puberty, it’s forcing us into premature death, it’s eroding our bodies and polluting our minds. Clearly, what we need is to romanticize madness maybe just a little. Friends have opened up to me about their own experiences with psychosis, mania, depression, anxiety, existential crises, and a myriad of other things society ultimately deems “irrational behavior” in need of medication or institutionalization. But what do schizophrenia and shamanism have in common? Is bipolar disorder really just a rollercoaster to enlightenment? These are all things we should be more aware of instead of demonizing people for having supposed “mental health issues”.
"It is the role of healers to help evoke that shift in attention, so people can reframe the mystery of who we are beyond our conventional forms, the basic uncertainties of our existence, as something that can be acceptable and even a source of security. Unfortunately, we mostly don’t have healers like that. Instead, those who are reeling from trauma and then from encounters with the terrifying side of mystery encounter 'professionals' who tell them it is just an illness, and that they should take drugs to deaden themselves down so they don’t see mystery anymore. This sometimes stops the process of reacting badly to the mystery, but it also prevents the healing, it prevents the shift to learning to find security in the mystery, to learning to look at mystery in a spiritual or balanced way rather than a scared or psychotic way." -Ron Unger