Category Archives: Mental Illness

Reiki: or, why not to feel bad if it isn’t for you.

I started my experience with Reiki several years ago now on the suggestion of my therapist at the time, who had begun to move toward more alternative modalities. I found it very useful to begin with, and with time took both the first and second level classes so that I would have access to it myself. The second went rather poorly for me, as it was a style of class I was not well suited for. Nonetheless, it is a tool I have in my overstuffed bipolar toolbag, and it has sometimes been useful for me.

There are a couple of difficulties with it though, the first being the cost. If you’ve managed to maintain your income while on your path through mental illness, this might not be a problem for you. I suspect the cost is highly localized as well. Here the cost has not yet standardized, and sessions the last time I checked were anywhere between 60 and 80 USD an hour. This is not even faintly within my budget on any kind of regular basis, which is why I took the classes. I still find a lot of value in receiving Reiki from another practitioner, and each time it is mentioned to me I feel shame at my inability to afford it.

Not everyone has the same reaction to it, either. Whether it dredges up old traumas or you’re just uncomfortable being touched by a stranger, it may not be a positive for you either in the moment or in the longer term. The idea of a calming, healing touch is not exclusive to Reiki. You may find something else more useful, or choose to avoid alternative methods altogether.

The biggest problem I’ve found, however, is that even if you find it useful it will likely be of little worth at the times you need it the most. When I’m manic, it’s who needs that shit? and when I’m depressed it’s why bother, it won’t help. Alternative methods of handling episodes have not been useful for me at all. In the increasingly narrow gaps between them, Reiki can give me a sense of calmness and connection that I haven’t found in any other remedy. It’s unfortunate that being ill in the first place leaves me in a position where I cannot take full advantage of it.

One last point before I leave the subject for the time being: in this area, Reiki has become something of a fad, and there are a lot of very inexperienced people hanging their shingles out. Based on what I’ve seen around me, I’d highly recommend that you do your homework and make efforts to avoid them. The energy itself never causes harm, but an inexpertly handled session surely can.

His life’s on the line with anxiety now

So there’s a reason that my business went under, my patterns were made free, and I no longer support them, and it has to do with the role that mental illness has come to play in my life. I’ve never been open about it; I can count on two hands with fingers left over the number of people who are not medical professionals who are aware of it. Lately, though, it’s struck me that maybe it’s far past time to open up a bit and share for both the benefit of those who might stumble across it and for the benefit of the me myself, as Whitman so aptly put it.

So Green Day lyrics aside, this is my situation. 9 years ago, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder during a hospitalization for what turned out to be an acute manic episode. For a while I was able to keep things going as if nothing had changed, but my attempts at trucking along as though nothing had happened and things were not continuing to happen slowly fell apart over time. This heightened severity of an illness that–looking back–I had been living with as long as I can remember, did not fully recede with medication. There were good times between episodes sometimes, even good times long enough that I thought I might get fully back on my feet. I tried to keep everything going during these, and succeeded for a while. But with a dark inevitably, the bad times would return, and the balls I was juggling would fall out of the air.

Eventually the business and all of the things surrounding it had to be laid down. I just couldn’t tend to it properly while trying to keep my job and care for my family. I cried the day I let it go, but it turned out to be the best thing in the end. The illness wasn’t done with me–not by a long shot. It still isn’t.