January 28, 2020 at 9:38 am #14480Bailey VincentKeymaster
I felt completely lost this last hospitalization. Due to what was going on with my head (I had a spinal headache), I was on a cocktail of meds the first few days that really impacted me cognitively. I felt slower… my eyes felt blurry… my thumbs felt slow when I tried to type or text my friends. I felt completely cut off from “myself”, which is even scarier sometimes when you’re deaf (which, surprisingly, a lot of CFers can develop hearing loss), and led to a lot of anxiety. My eyes and functioning thumbs are my connection to the world. I can’t just call someone up when texting doesn’t work, or listen to the TV when I’m trying to take my mind off things.
I shared a bit about this in a recent Instagram post (with an ASL vlog to match), but I was wondering: Has anyone else ever experienced a reaction to medications that made them feel disconnected, anxious or different? How did it impact you after?
I am still sort of shaken up by the whole experience, and worrying it will one day happen again. I realized this serves no one… but it’s hard to not reflect back with both gratitude and fear.
February 2, 2020 at 5:36 am #14530Paul met DebbieParticipant
Certainly some substances change our state of consciousness. We all know alcohol, there are many medicines that effect our consciousness either on purpose (e.g. strong painkillers like oxycodon), or as a side effect. I once experienced a sort of out of body sensation following the start of an antibiotic treatment (ciprofloxacin) that lasted a whole day – as if I was looking at myself from a small distance, I almost liked it (even more so when it faded away). And then there are hallucinogenic drugs of course.
We tend to put a lot of value to our normal state of consciousness, which mostly is dominated by our mind or what we call our “personality”. We mostly think our personality is who we really are. So if something influences this beyond our will, we tend to get scared. We feel like “we” disappear (we only like that feeling when we fall asleep). The problem with that is, that the state of our personality is highly volatile, it changes quickly with circumstances, time, emotions and thoughts (or, as it may be, substances). The personality is far from stable. It might be predictable in its instability – people then say: “I can’t help myself, that’s who I am, take it or leave it”, without really looking closely at this. In fact, the fixed patterns and conditioned reflexes we follow when reacting to circumstances, thoughts and emotions, are what make up our personality. It is formed by our conditioning, upbringing, there is a genetic component to it and in the end, and we constantly feed and refine it by believing it into existence. It seems to define how we react to life; it seems that it defines who we (think) we are. But this is only true if we identify with this personality.
If you identify (attach) to this personality to such an extent that you feel that you actually Are it, and there is nothing beyond this (like for instance intuition, being, a sense of wholeness, the natural body), then you are in for a shaky ride in life. You will be experiencing a lot of polarities, highs and lows, ecstasy and depression, and you are told that this is normal and even that this means you are really alive, that it is part of the pursuit of happiness. But you will be wrong in believing this.
We should bear in mind, that the word personality is derived from the Latin “persona”, which means “where the sound (sona) comes through (per)”. It refers to the mask that was used in theatre by the old Roman and Greek actors, to enhance the projection and volume of their voice. And it also changed with the role they played in the particular part. So, originally the personality is a role we play and sentences we speak, not our real Being. In modern life we have to play many (and sometimes contradictory) roles, which is difficult but fine as long as we don’t confuse our roles with who we really are. And we should never identify with any of those roles. Because then we are at the mercy of them and of the circumstances that they are programmed to react to by conditioning. It is also advisable to limit the number of roles we have to play, and refuse the ones that are contra-intuitive. In short: simplify your acting career. Sometimes we simply have to quit some theatres all together. Notice that being in nature for almost everyone is a pleasing state, it requires no acting. We then experience how the true self always is and we go by intuition instead of by thinking.
It is not only (sometimes) medication, but more often also our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings in our abstract and unnatural surroundings that constantly influence who we think we are (the personality, the mind) and determine if and how we react to what happens. At this moment, you are actually fine, but you are suffering from identification with a role you were temporarily forced to play as a reaction to your medication. Thoughts come up (I felt cut off from “myself”, without my eyes and thumbs I can’t connect to the world anymore, will this happen again?) that produce uncertainty and fear. But these thoughts are not who you are and if you see that, you have a choice not to believe them. In fact, if you look at them with a bit more distance, you will see that they are not correct, over the top to say the least, colored and distorted by the mind. If we take all our roles that seriously and get lost in them, we will endure a lot of suffering, fear and uncertainty. It is necessary to really see that these thoughts and questions arise to the person that in a way is still “on the stage” and forgot to put down the mask when the show was long over. You are not equal to that person. You are way beyond that, much deeper, more stable and much bigger than this role you temporarily played in the hospital when on meds.
You only have to stop the identification with what happened. Lay down the role and step down from the stage. This is not difficult. Change your thinking and language from: “this is happening to me” into: “this apparently happened”. And see that it is not happening now anymore. Now also realize that in fact, nothing happened to the real (natural) You. Only on the stage it happened to the persona, and of course the actor has to believe more or less what he/she does to be successful in convincing the public (and him/herself). You probably were quite convincing to your surrounding and to yourself in the hospital. But it still was only a role happening. However, the more you are able to see this (preferably to everything that happens right when it happens, but even hindsight will set you free again), the less you will be impacted by situations like these. If you see through the mind and its games, and the minds and games of other persons, you will feel much more peaceful, quiet, have more trust in what happens in life. You will get less neurotic (or even less psychotic, depending on the strength and kind of identifications you had with the mind), experience less fear, less unrest, less bodily contraction, more trust. You will be much happier and less worried, much more connected to reality (that what already is) without effort. There are many ways that can point you in this direction, like yoga, mindfulness, meditation etc.
So, don’t believe or value the person(ality), find and rest in your true self. Next time you are in such a situation, realize it is not (really) about you, relax into it, surrender and don’t think about it. Align with it, it is there, you are there, so why oppose? You are bigger than the situation. Go into yourself, focus on your breathing, observe the thoughts and feelings (don’t try to stop them, don’t judge even), but don’t log in to them, don’t combine with them, don’t believe them, just feel and observe and let them do what they do. They can’t really hurt you. Don’t act, stay where you are, right in the now. It might be unpleasant for a while, but it will pass. Don’t add anything to them. Thoughts and feelings only rule in so far as you give energy to them. Without your mind connecting to them, elaborating on them and feeding the process (story-telling in your mind, digging into the past, projecting into the future), they will soon die out. Even bodily sensations (contraction, unrest) while unpleasant, don’t last for long if not followed up by new thoughts or feelings. They are just suggestions of the conditioned mind, like the telephone ringing – you have the option not to answer, then after a while, the ringing will stop. This is what surrendering means, it is not weak, but strong – you resist the temptations of the frightened mind and rest in yourself. Just endure it for a while from a neutral perspective. The suggestions of the mind have no absolute strength of their own. If you meditate for half an hour, most of the effects will have totally gone and you will ask yourself: “now, what was this all about actually?” The mask is off then. The body will relax soon after and take on its natural state. The more often you practice this in simple situations, the better you get at it and you will remain steady even when the mind really gets going. You will save a lot of energy that your body now can use to stay as healthy as possible (immune system, digestion, breathing, circulation).
May grace be with you.
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