28 September 2007

Thursday 25th September 2007

Thank you to every soul out there who has sent their prayers...know that they exert an invisible power and that I am grateful.

I read a book recently called The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden which attempted to explain the web-like links we all have with each other – sort of new age quantum physics mixed with mysticism. It didn’t quite go all the way to say that we are all The One, but it certainly alluded to it.
I have no doubt that as one human being suffers, at an invisible level we all do. As one heart ascends, so all of humanity is lifted.

My son is now fighting an enormous battle to regain his foothold on sanity. If he can get back onto solid ground I'm sure he'll be able to claw his way back to mental and physical health.
He is a fighter, a boxer, a warrior. He will survive.
He refuses to accept what has happened to him, to allow the people who so recklessly prescribed these debilitating drugs then dismissed his concerns to get away with destroying the life he'd built up. Unfortunately this attitude is probably increasing his suffering and turmoil, as he replays the events over and over in his mind in an attempt to gain clarity and understanding. It’s hard to know what approach is best: acceptance of his plight so he can move forward from this low point, or his stubborn refusal to accept it so he can fight the injustice, get even with the perpetrators and achieve some emotional compensation.

How can so-called ‘experts’ in the mental health profession be so unintelligent and insensitive?
Prior to this I’d had no contact with the mental health system, so it’s been a shock to discover that practitioners (mainly psychiatrists) rarely help people with empathetic and genuine counselling. Believe me I’ve heard some real horror stories lately.

If my son had listened to the two psychiatrists and one psychologist/pain expert we consulted, he would be in hospital and brain dead beyond repair by now. And someone with less guts than my son might have, in that situation, conceded that their mind was not clear enough to know what would help them and actually listened to these idiots.
Seriously…Electo Convulsive Therapy?
Anyone with half a brain knows INSTINCTIVELY that this treatment is barbaric and irreversible. Our brains and minds are exquisitely sensitive instruments, of a complexity that is light years beyond the comprehension of our most advanced scientific experts. This treatment does not act precisely to address a specific neural imbalance, it fries everything, yet it's so readily recommended as safe these days that we could be forgiven for believing this. NOT SO. Dr Peter Breggin again has exposed the long term damage it causes to patients in this article.

So where does that leave my son right now?
Thankfully the absolute shock and despair of his mental and physical deterioration has subsided and he is no longer suicidal. I’ve encouraged him to recognise his inner strength, I've validated all his experiences as real, and I've vowed to do whatever it takes to get him on the path to recovery.
We are still trying to find someone who may be able to shed light on exactly what has changed in his neural/chemical makeup and this is giving him hope. Today I will contact some neuropsychiatrists to see if any may be sympathetic and willing to help him unravel the mystery of why he is still deteriorating and why the thick fog of anaesthesia in his head won't budge, three months after stopping all medication.

All his medical and blood tests are normal, which reinforces our growing awareness of the limitations of western medicine. Something in his physiology really isn't functioning properly (or at all) and we can't get answers to what it is, so now we're exploring alternative therapies to address his declining health and extreme chronic fatigue.
From a yoga perspective, I’d say his life force is drying up, or perhaps it is just blocked. His body seems unable to generate it despite an extremely healthy vegetarian diet and sincere attempts to exercise.
Up til now, my son (a Taurus through and through) has been stoically resistant to anything ‘alternative’ (yoga, acupuncture, ch’i kung, ayurveda etc). He lumped it all in the ‘hippy’ category. Today we'll visit the Chinese doctor for acupuncture and herbs, which is an extraordinary U-turn for him. I’m astounded and grateful that he is now open to this. But I guess he's desperate. If Chinese traditional medicine doesn't help, next on the list is homeopathy, then perhaps some other healing modalities. But I firmly believe that with the passing of time, Nature will bring his system back into it's natural balance - he just needs time, faith and patience.

On the mat
Yes I’m still practising.
Yoga practice is both the anchor that grounds me and the breeze that lifts my spirits. Now, more than ever, those two hours are for returning to the safe house, temporarily out of the war zone.

6am practice in the Gallery on Tuesday turned out to be a reunion – Renate, Kosta and Sasha all turned up. I started off slow and deliberate, but steadily built up a powerful momentum which carried me through every pose in the entire primary sequence. A full practice at last.

Standing poses were grounded by the breath-focus in my feet rising to fill out the poses from the ground up, and after a strong Virabradrasana B, a little prompt made me try a freestanding Handstand at the front of my mat. The prompt came from nowhere, but I followed, kicked up softly and found the magic spot straight away. I stayed up there, in perfect balance for what seemed like minutes (in real time it was probably about 15 seconds). That pinnacle of suspension in perfect equipoise is an exquisite experience. Even now the feeling is still with me and as I think of it I re-enter the sublime heights, elevated above the mundane, I’m back up there, in suspension, and time and breath are held motionless.

Practice this morning (Thursday) was not as focussed – my mind seemed to be indelibly super-glued to the plight of my son.
During the sun salutes I had to pry it off over and over.

Come back to now. Stay present.
But I didn’t want to stop thinking about him because it felt selfish, like I was abandoning him, like every moment I thought about my son just might bring me closer to solving his problems and every moment was critical.

The emotional tug-of-war between There and Here continued unabated until Paschimottanasana, then it took a turn, as if the stronger side suddenly pulled harder and won.
In the forward bend I noticed my quads weren’t fully engaged, an action that grounds the entire pose. I corrected it, pulled up the quads firmly, pressed the thighbones down and felt mula bandha return. Then I wandered off to my son, lost it all, noticed I’d lost it all, re-engaged the mental and physical firmness to a slightly lesser intensity, drifted off again, brought myself back…etc…etc…etc…until my mind muscle gave up.

I did a weak vinyasa.

Then Purvottanasana, and the promise of redemption, especially if I could engage mula bandha and draw it energetically up to the top of my chest. There it lifted and opened my heart up like an erupting volcano. A tiny spark of energy flickered.

A slightly stronger vinyasa.

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana – right side. I stayed in it for 12 breaths today – it normally takes 6 long, strong, focussed breaths before my right hip and knee will release their grip, so I usually ignore the regulation 5 breath rule here. When they release I gain access to all the emotional pain locked up in my lower back so I stick around and watch it writhing like an injured snake.
The other side of Ardha Baddha comes too easy so I have to work equally hard in a different way to avoid slacking off. The work is more subtle and my mind has to tune up to a finer frequency to remain present.
But extending the stay in this pose slows down the velocity of practice, kills the momentum.

I stayed longer than 5 breaths in Trianga Mukhai, but I wasn’t counting anymore, just enjoying the show, watching my body parts systematically release and adjusting the alignment of my pelvis in increments, keeping a watchful eye on the energy flow of the straight leg.

I stepped through the vinyasa…everything slowing down now.

Janu Sirsasana A – it’s such an elementary pose, but there’s so much going on when viewed through the microscope of total attention, the fullness of awareness seeing through muscles, tissue and bone, watching and directing fluids and energy around the body.

No vinyasa between sides, but I managed a real one after the second side – it was to be my last for today.

Janu Sirsasana B – just hurt my feet which was a surprise, they must be extra sensitive for some reason today. After all these years of practice (and-gulp- teaching) I’m still not really sure how to position that foot. Is it in the same flexed configuration as Janu A? Or is it rolled over with the sole facing slightly upwards? Both positions hurt.

No vinyasa.

Janu Sirsasana C – is fast catching up to Utkatasana as an unexpected favourite pose of mine (I think I’ve described the immediate change in my breath when I hit Utkatasana in a previous post) . In Janu C, the continual pressure from the heel into the inner thigh and an equal and opposite pressure inwards from the outer thigh creates something exciting. The inner stream of prana percolates upwards with this inward squeezing. I let that happen then remembered to press the bent knee down a bit more and my lower back screamed with delight – then the sparring dialogue opened up between those two, going back and forth like a see-saw, the knee testing the limit of how far it could go, the lower back sending immediate replies.

I laid back on the floor, interlocked my hands and took them overhead til they too rested on the floor above me. It felt good. This was my…(ahem)…new vinyasa.

My mind wanderered momentarily and I asked myself 'what would I have done at this point if I'd been practising at the shala?' The answer...'just kept going - so what's stopping me?'

Marichy A. My body really wasn’t complying now, but there was no struggle, just acceptance, awareness, understanding and application. I bound hands, went forward and held on. That was it.
Laid back on the floor again. This time it felt TOO good.
My entire body released into the earth and I felt a buoyancy supporting me. Instead of descending into the heaviness of Savasana, I finished off with a few inversions, rolling slowly out of Halasana then halfway back into it a few times to give my lower back muscles an acupressure treatment.
Then finally Savasana.
I do miss it when I don't do an intense, sweaty, challenging Ashtanga practice, but for now the challenges off the mat are excessively high voltage and I have to accept that I'm not superhuman.
Those two sweet hours of yoga were not an escape but a precious distraction, a necessary tonic to disperse the tension of my obsessive preoccupation with my son, a time to reconnect to the Source and recharge my batteries.

Ready to re-enter the war zone, fight alongside my son, and win.

21 September 2007

Saturday 22nd September 2007

The last two weeks have been traumatic.

My son rang me one morning, he’s 25, he was in tears and said he couldn’t bear to go on living.

I panicked, dropped everything and drove like a wildwoman to his house. I got him in to see someone that day who helped on the day by listening, then got him an appointment with a psychiatrist two weeks later.
Two weeks on and we are faced with no hope from the medical profession at all, in fact my son and I are both devastated at how impotent and useless most doctors/psychologists and psychiatrists are.

Every day my son’s mental and physical condition worsens and no one seems willing or able help him.

It all started at the beginning of this year when he was suffering from insomnia and was worried that it would impair his performance at the new job he was starting. The GP prescribed very mild sleeping pills, but my son’s mind is acutely perceptive and so finely tuned that the pills hit him like a shot of heroin. He complained of the side effects and was prescribed some other medication which only made him anxious and confused.

He went to a different doctor who recommended Prozac.
As soon as he took it he spiralled out of control, the anxiety skyrocketed, but the doctor said this would wear off. It didn’t and got worse. My son said it was worse than being on speed.
His doctor called in the Assessment and Crisis Intervention Service team (usually only called in when the patient is suspected of suicidal or harmful action – his medication was changed to a strong sedative which immediately sent him into a brain-dead daze, he was unable to function. His body deteriorated quickly over the next month.
Whereas before he’d been athletic, with explosive muscular power and reflexes maintained by 2 hours of boxing training every day, soon he was a lifeless zombie living in a shrunken shell of a body, with barely enough energy to walk. All this happened over the course of four months.

He’d experienced adverse reactions to all of the medications and it hadn’t been recognised by his doctor or the Crisis Intervention team that were now visiting him sporadically at home and supposedly monitoring him.

Two and a half months ago, dazed and drugged, he somehow had the flicker of insight to stop all the anti-depressant medication, abruptly. His incredible strength and will to survive momentarily flashed through the thick fog.

He has continued to watch his mental and physical health decline at an alarming rate despite taking no medication, no drugs, eating well, still trying to exercise, and summoning all his accumulated self knowledge and wisdom to fight this battle.

It seems like the SSRI medication has damaged a part of his brain and paralysed his feelings.
Where once he was a young man of great potential, creativity, with rich and beautiful feelings about life, now he's unable to feel anything for anyone or any activity. The adverse reaction to the medication has left him dead inside unable to feel any joy, excitement, love, empathy, or any desirefor the things he used to enjoy. It’s called depersonalisation syndrome.
He can identify easily with the people who go into a place and shoot everyone without remorse or conscience.

It was a Saturday morning two weeks ago when he rang my mobile phone, crying. He couldn’t go on like this any more, day after day, isolated, stuck in the house alone, no feelings, no energy, no life force, nowhere to go. He said he felt like he was in an aeroplane that’s about to crash and nothing can stop it. You have no control over that destiny. You’re about to die.

For the past two weeks my heart’s been beating at a superhuman rate, on adrenalin overload to match the crisis. Only a mother who’s child is in immediate danger knows this feeling. Eyes flared, brain on full alert, chemicals rushing through the system, fight and flight, then fight more with everything you’ve got, protect and save at all costs, my own life means nothing. Every moment, every thought is about my son.

I took some days off work to stay with him, to watch him, to listen to him, to share his pain and anguish at what had been done to him, to cry with him, to counsel him, to be there for him. I slept in the spare bed, unable to leave him alone in the house, fearing the worst.

Two weeks on.
We’ve seen two psychiatrists, one private practitioner, and one from the hospital. They both insisted that anti-depressant medication can’t do this to people, that my son is severely depressed and blaming the medication “paranoid thoughts”.
Yet I’ve done all the homework.
Here is evidence.
And Here is the book that reveals what the entire medical profession won’t admit to.
They’ve been brainwashed by the drug companies that rule the world. In years to come, like thalidomide, we’ll surely discover how dangerous those medications are– they alter the chemical balance in your brain and for people who don’t want to escape life but want to face it head on like my son, being doped out so they can’t think straight is violently abusive and damaging.

But my son trusted that the doctors and psychiatrists and professionals knew better than he did about what could help him.
They didn’t.
Instead of listening to him, understanding him and giving him wise counsel, they took the easy way out and medicated and sedated him. And those medications have left him physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually permanently damaged.

Tell me what kind of a society do we live in when the professional people we turn to in times of crisis, end up damaging us beyond repair. Then they wash their hands and move on, leaving the patient traumatised.
My son may never recover from this. He is angry, he is frustrated. He wants to kill them all for what they’ve done to his life.

Understandably, we are not only suspicious, but incredulous of the two psychiatrists we’ve just seen who want to admit him immediately to hospital and administer Electric Convulsive Therapy – how barbaric is that? Can it possibly get any worse?

What the immediate and short term future holds I have no idea. I don’t want to think about it. I focus on an image of my son as he was a year ago, strong, healthy and happy, before this nightmare started. I pray so intently for him that my body surges with Divine love and power – and I send it to him, connecting with him, feeling the love and strength returning to his body through mine.

This should not have happened.