I have suffered from mental illness in my past and take medications today for bipolar disorder, anxiety and psychosis. The first of two manic episodes I have experienced in my life was approximately 20 years ago. I had recently graduated university and was consumed in my first work placement post-graduation. It became the focus of all my waking hours and what had started out as a passion for my work soon spiraled into an obsession. Those obsessive thoughts were the catalyst for that first manic episode. My mind was racing as I was trying to understand what was happening to me.
I was piecing together points of information about my past in trying to explain my current condition: my birth date, the town I was raised in, the street I grew up on, the city I resided in, the name of the company I worked for, and many more. All of these points of data I read significance into. And it was then that I started having delusional thoughts that concluded with me believing that my purpose was to deliver a message from God.
But the message to deliver was not clear to me. Nor how to deliver the message. I orchestrated a few tests in my community around the kindness of strangers. But soon I ran out of ideas. I had hit a wall and did not know how to proceed. I thought my work might be done. But now what? It was then that the unusual thoughts became more delusional and highly dangerous.
The only template I could think of was Jesus Christ. I knew I was not Jesus Christ but felt his was the only useful example for how to proceed with this supposed mission from God. The problem of course was that his mission entailed his death. And I was left with the realization that I may need to end my life for the sake of humanity.
It escalated and in my delusional state I had convinced myself that God wanted me to commit suicide so that humanity may live. It felt real. And it brought me to tears because I did not want to die. I remember the event vividly:
I was sobbing on my living room couch: “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die”. The pleas piercing my empty apartment. I was all alone and in the midst of summoning the courage to commit the unthinkable when I believe a voice spoke to me clearly for the first time. I know the voice came from deep within me but I believe it was not my own. The message was more powerful than any of the previous delusions and quickly washed the suicidal thoughts away. That message was:
You are not him. You do not need to die for them.
The tremendous feelings the message imparted, which cannot be overstated, was one of comfort, compassion, and love. It was the sheer magnitude and immediacy of those feelings that convinced me the message was not of me. The feelings cascaded over me like an enormous yet gentle wave and I believe now they came from a place that was greater than myself.
I believe now that it was the voice of the Divine.
The voice of my god. And it was not just the Christian god, the god of my childhood. They were more.
It was the end of my first manic episode. I walked back from that precipice and realized that I was not meant to deliver a message.
At least not yet.