The powerful Lion’s Gate: a perfect time to address the link between spirituality and mental illness
Updated: Jan 28
As I’ve been writing this new blog, which I started back in January, I’ve been reminded time and again, through my own and others’ experiences, that the approach to psychiatric care in this country is one dimensional and seriously lacking.
I’ve mentioned the fact that there is zero therapy available in psychiatric wards, zero drug awareness or counselling, zero mention of nutrition, zero ongoing support, and zero attention to anything at all really – how they’re expecting anyone to get better in the current system is, quite honestly, anyone’s guess!
As far as my experience goes, the only ‘help’ that I’ve received both on the NHS (and even privately), has been the pharmacological or ‘drug centred’ approach - hardly anything else has even been mentioned.
Recently, I’ve been addressing some of the elements that psychiatry seems to be overlooking in their approach to helping patients overcome their episodes of mental illness, and with yesterday being the astronomical ‘Lion’s Gate Portal’ which happens on the 8th day of the 8th month every year, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to address this even further.
What is The Lion‘s Gate?
The Lion’s Gate is a time of increased cosmic energy flowing between the physical and spiritual realms. It has roots that go back to ancient Egypt and for thousands of years has been observed and honoured as a time of a great energetic influx and activation.
Astrologically, it is a time when our earth joins with the initiating energies of the star Sirius (a higher dimensional sun that informs our sun) and Orion’s belt.
According to the ancient Egyptians, this astrological time coincided with the flooding of the Nile, so was seen as an especially prosperous and fertile time of the year.
This ‘portal’ opens every year between July 28th and August 12th, but August 8th is considered official activation day which has an extra mystic element to it this year because it coincides with the new moon in Leo.
This all makes it the perfect time to get aligned to the cosmos, welcome in new change, and practice some manifestation and self-reflection!
But what does this have to do with mental health?!
If we are going to start helping people properly, then we need to stop just feeding them drugs and expecting them to make a miraculous recovery because this just doesn’t happen!
There are so many other factors that have to be considered in the approach to attaining full mental wellness, some of which I have started to touch on more recently.
It is obviously important to address the physical aspects and lifestyle changes that will have an effect on the brain such as cutting out all stimulants and depressants like caffeine and alcohol (a must for any mental illness sufferer) and improving our gut microbiota by modifying our diets which some people even regard as ‘the second brain’.
All of this is important and it’s all related to recovery, stability, mental health and general well-being, yet none of it is currently being addressed in our approach to psychiatric care.
It’s currently so unbelievably lacking, and I am constantly being reminded of this through the horror stories I hear through the people who contact me through this site.
As well as physical aspects of diet and lifestyle, there are many other factors to consider too, for example: what about a patients intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs? How are we addressing any of them?
Answer? - Not in any way whatsoever! Oh dear God!
Genius and madness
In my last psychiatric hospital admission, I met so many highly intelligent and talented people, many of whom had degrees from Oxford and Cambridge, and were exceptionally gifted individuals, who were admitted to the ward to be ‘treated’ for various different mental illnesses.
It is so often the case that high intelligence and mental illness coincide; in fact the link between genius and madness has been recogised and appreciated through the centuries yet when us ‘geniuses’ were locked up together we were not given access to any kind of mental stimulation whatsoever!
We ended up talking amongst ourselves, empathising, and supporting each other, and I spent hours unpicking my own and others’ psychological and philosophical dilemmas and trying to dismantle the conflict between ‘spiritual awakening’ and madness – basically I was doing the psychiatrist’s job for him seeing as his input was so unbelievably minute, and his presence on the ward was practically non-existent.
When it came to heightened spiritual and religious beliefs, most of us were too afraid to discuss any of this with the staff for fear of being (knowing we’d be) misunderstood, which only had one outcome – forcible injection and incarceration in the stagnant, unhelpful, chaotic, unsettling, and unstimulating environment for even longer!!
The link between mental illness and spirituality
I’ve hesitated before writing about any of this, but I know it’s an area that is being neglected and unless people start to speak out about it, the understanding and education will never come.
The truth is that spirituality and mental illness are inextricably linked and it is a huge, mammoth, gargantuan aspect that’s being completely overlooked - it needs addressing URGENTLY.
The wards are fraught with all sorts of conflicting religious beliefs, spiritual awakenings and sometimes even demonic possessions, with mental illness all wrapped up in the chaos, turbulence and confusion of it all.
It’s not being mentioned or addressed (or even attempted to) in any way at all, yet a very high percentage of those with mania or psychosis are having some kind of (admittedly confused and inauthentic) ‘spiritual awakening’.
The result of all of this is that it leads to arguments and general chaos between both patients and patients and staff and patients because there’s so much confusion, pent-up emotion and frustration flooding the confines of the ward‘s crammed and constricted corridors.
The staff have absolutely no idea how to deal with any of this. Their answer is to bulldoze people to the floor and administer forcible antipsychotics when they (inevitably because not many of them have any) lose their thinly veiled patience – none of this is helping anybody!!
Can we stop relying solely on medicating people and start practicing some compassion, empathy and understanding instead?!
Why am I speaking out now?
The reason that I’ve decided to start talking about all of this is not just because it’s a spiritual time right now, but because I am also reading Dr Russell Razzaque’s incredible book called ‘Breaking Down is Waking Up’, the title of which says it all really.
He accepts that mental illness and spiritual awakening are connected and is obviously a highly intelligent psychiatrist, but also a compassionate and forward-thinking human being (he puts his humanity first), who is very well versed on the subject of spirituality, mental illness and awakening.
He even points out that we can learn so much from patients in mental crisis when it comes to this area of understanding – how incredibly refreshing to hear all of this!
If only I’d had Dr Razzaque as my consultant four years ago, then maybe I wouldn’t have been left with all of this residual confusion and emotion to have to unpick, detangle and reconcile with all on my own!!
Stigma and misunderstanding
All of this is very hard to discuss because there is still so much stigma surrounding mental illness and ‘madness’ as well as with the subject of spirituality and religion itself which makes this a very contentious area indeed!
The less stigmatised episodes of depression and anxiety seem to have been accepted nowadays, (although it has to be said that they are still massively misunderstood), but when it comes to the more complicated and severe conditions like bipolar, schizophrenia, psychosis, and personality disorders (that name needs changing immediately) there is still a ridiculous amount of fear, misunderstanding and unfortunately a huge amount of stigma that surrounds and comes with them.
I’m so done with stigma now! I’ve dealt with stigma in one way or another through the whole of my adult life and it just doesn’t bother me anymore.
No one is talking about this stuff (except Dr Razzaque that is), but both he and I know how important it is and it’s about time that everyone else did too!!
My own 'spiritual awakening'
I wrote a whole post a couple of months ago, about the very spiritual and religious mania that I experienced over four years ago now, back in May of 2017.
Basically, what happened was that I was propelled into two interconnecting worlds, one heaven and one Earth, and I could access both planes simultaneously. It was like a window was flung open wide in my mind and I could communicate with the beyond in the most incredibly powerful, liberating and uplifting way.
This is not an unusual experience because, as I’ve already mentioned, the wards are full of people who have had, or are having, ‘spiritual or religious awakenings’ but they’re continuously being discredited, and dismissed as either: mad, insane, crazy, or as one member of staff so brazenly described one patient - ‘demonically possessed’.
Anyway, I’ve begun to get to grips with all of this recently by reading Dr Razzaque’s book ‘Breaking Down is Waking Up’ which has been so healing and comforting, as well as enlightening in as far as it’s gone a long way to help with understanding my own condition and reconciling with past episodes.
He says with a particular reference to my own condition that:
“Those with bipolar disorder may experience strong spiritual themes in relation to the core symptoms themselves. Indeed, the higher one gets in the wheel of awakening, the more spiritually laced the symptoms become, and so the more mystical the experience of mental illness starts to sound. This also explains why there are such strong parallels between the experience of psychosis and that of mystical awakening. It is almost as if the ego is cannibalizing itself from the inside out.”
Reading and digesting Dr Razzaque’s thoughts and ideas has been such a cathartic experience because he truly understands and accepts all of this ‘madness’ as something more profound and significant. This is the dilemma that I’ve been left wrestling with for years!
Thank God (yes thank you) that there is a professional out there that gets the importance of all of this!
My last doctor didn’t suggest therapy which I was relieved about at the time, because I was too unwell (I was in a horrifying mixed state and constantly suicidal) to be able to engage with it.
Now that I’m finally better though, I’ve been wondering about the potential gains of therapy and holistic healing as I move forward from the illness and into this new chapter of my life.
What I’ve decided to do is immerse myself in my own study of this topic by working on challenging myself intellectually through reading, and then dealing with residual emotions by becoming more connected to spirituality in a more rounded, calmer, and more authentic way.
This has all started to make a lot more sense while reading Dr Russell Razzaque’s amazing book and I’ve had a thought about this; if the psychiatrists aren’t comfortable with discussing this kind of stuff, why don’t they just provide us with a reading list?!
It’s not hard surely, yet not one has ever suggested reading a book to me, yet this area of learning and education has played such a vital role in my recovery – every suggestion has come from other patients!
So ridiculous but so true!
A profound change
Since regaining stability in the storm of this unbelievably traumatic illness, I have noticed a profound and positive change to have affected me.
This is something that many people who’ve survived a severe and/or prolonged bout of any kind of illness tend to experience – your perspective on life changes and you see the world and your relationship to it in a completely different way.
I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, and my priorities are health, health, health, whereas my ego used to be obsessed with material things and trivialities which is something that Dr Razzaque describes extensively in his brilliant book.
It would appear that I am now having another sort of awakening, but from the anticlockwise direction of the ‘Wheel of Awakening’ which is something I will be discussing in more depth tomorrow.
I want to end this post with a quote from Dr Razzaque which really resonated with me when I read it at the weekend, and I wanted to include it for anyone out there who is feeling (or will feel) this change and wants to understand it in a more profound and intelligent way.
“It’s only at this particular point that people start to realize that almost everything that previously motivated them in life was self-centred. I do not mean that in a negative or judgemental way; I simply mean that the driving force propelling us through life when we are in the dream state is very self-centred . . . The dream state is the state where we perceive separation, where we think we are a separate entity and a separate being. That separate being is always seeking something – love, approval, success, money, maybe even enlightenment.
But with real awakening, that whole structure begins to dissolve under one’s feet. There is still a human being there; we don’t disappear into a puff of smoke. Even our personality remains intact . . . The difference is that once we have seen beyond the veil of separation; identification with our particular personality begins to dissolve.”
This has gone some way to understanding what’s been going on in recent months!
Thank you Dr Russell Razzaque for ‘getting it’ and writing it all down so comprehensibly!
Thank you so so much!
* * *
Tomorrow, I will be discussing some of the other points from the book - most notably how ego is so inextricably involved in the process of becoming unwell, and how those who have, or have had mental illness are most primed for awakening and how that can be seen as such a blessing and not (as has been drummed into us for centuries) a damnable curse!
If you would like to read more about The Lion’s Gate and how it can be used to our advantage at this very spiritual time, then you can find more information here.
I have also added a song which I am using to higher my vibrational energy each morning when I am simply being grateful for a new day and nothing else at all! – having dreaded the start of a new day for so long while suffering from depression over the years, this is quite an astounding and remarkable change – a most welcome one too I have to say!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,