The Tragedy Of Mental Illness:Removing The Stigma

Artist Karol Bak

This week a lot of people got an up close and personal look at mental illness, as the media covered Kanye and Trump meeting in the Oval Office. SNL also weighed in on last night’s cold open. But here’s the thing, mental illness isn’t funny. Just like heart disease isn’t funny, or cancer isn’t funny. I can’t imagine anyone mocking someone with cancer on a tv sketch. It would be cruel. Watching this has been especially painful for me. Here’s why.

I grew up with a mother with severe mental illness. My mother was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder when I was 10, but she had been ill long before that. Bipolar 1 disorder is the most extreme version of Bipolar disorder. The person goes from depression, to normal, to hypo manic ( just below manic), to mania, with hallucinations and psychotic breaks. She was put on antipsychotic drugs ( Stellazine) and antidepressants at that time. Even with the medication, she had episodes. It was heartbreaking to see. When I was 10, we were all at the dinner table, when she started to choke. She thought she had swallowed her fork. My three younger brothers started to laugh. They ranged from age 8 to age 4. My father snapped at them that it wasn’t funny. I got up and walked around the table, accounting for every piece of cutlery. When I got to her, I said to her, look, mom. There are six of us. There are six forks. I put her hand on her fork, and said, here’s yours. You didn’t swallow it. She looked up at me, so frightened, and said, do you promise? I said, yes, mom, I promise. She stopped choking.

When my dad took me out of the convent to take care of her after another hospitalization, I was just turning 13. She was bad again. I had to bathe her. She was in the tub, looking up at me, crying, because she thought her bones were going to come out through her skin. I reassured her that they wouldn’t. Again, she said, do you promise? And again, I said, yeah, mom. I promise.

I can’t count the times I had to reassure her. She had no filter, and no, absolutely no boundaries. She was very creative, and could be very funny. Emotionally, she was the equivalent of a five year old. The medications helped, to a point. Remember, that was back in the sixties, before Lithium. Lithium began being prescribed in the seventies. No one talked about mental illness much back then. I never understood that. The brain is an organ, no different from the heart, the lungs, or the liver. What I learned as a kid, is that if your brain gets sick, nobody wants to know you.

The stigma attached to mental illness infuriates me. It stops people who need help from getting the help they need. No one in my family discussed my mother’s mental illness, no matter what she was doing. It didn’t matter how blatant it got, or that she had been diagnosed, and was under a doctors care. Their capacity for denial was incredible. I got a call from one of my brothers once, because she was upset with him that he wouldn’t admit that there was a family of Amish people living in the house, that nobody else could see but her. He asked me to talk to her. I did. Trying to reach someone in psychosis is challenging, to say the least. I became pretty good at it, given that I had had a lot of practice.

I am writing about this, because NOT talking about mental illness is how we ended up with this president. He moves in and out of psychosis. He has frequent breaks with reality. The malignant narcissism, grandiosity, delusions, and rampant paranoia are all indicators of an Axis II Disorder. ( Axis II Disorders are Personality Disorders, which are not biochemical. Axis I Disorders are the biochemical mood disorders, like depression or Bipolar disorder. Most mental health practitioners agree that there is no cure for a Personality Disorder.) Living with someone with mental illness is tragic enough. Having someone with mental illness running the country is horrifying. Watching him ramble, being almost incoherent, is unreal. The country needs an intervention, regarding denial. Mental illness, left untreated, escalates. Over 27,000 mental health professionals have written letters to Congress attempting to bring this to light, to no avail. By refusing to look at it, the entire country is being plunged into the chaos that untreated mental illness creates.

If we, as a country, could find the courage to have a compassionate conversation about mental illness, it could change the lives of millions of people. People are suffering from depression, from PTSD, from Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. Help is out there. Unless we challenge the stigma attached to mental illness, people won’t ask for help. I’m sorry, but making fun of anyone struggling with mental illness is not acceptable, not on any level. It just drives others further into the shadows. And very often, they die there.

This population will always live in my heart, because I grew up observing the hell of it first hand. It’s what drove me to study Chinese medicine, because I wanted to find a complimentary path to support clients with these issues, in addition to western medicine. ( For anyone interested in reading about approaches through Chinese Medicine, see the book by Dr Leon Hammer MD, Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies. Dr Hammer is a renowned psychiatrist who switched  to practicing Chinese medicine. )

Denial is dangerous. Look where we are as a nation because of it. It’s never been an option for me. I know what happens because of it. Let’s all work together to help a population that desperately needs us. Together, we can usher in a new day. Mental illness makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I get that. But we need to have the heart to get past that discomfort. Lives depend on it. And to all of those still suffering, know that there are people out there that love you. You are not alone.  Blessings, Rev Judith Star-Medicine

Demon Nation: A Priestesses Perspective, Elections As An Exorcism

Every world religion has protocols for dealing with entities and possession. If you google “ exorcism in the Bible “, the references to Jesus and others performing exorcisms are numerous. Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity and Indigenous cultures all have teachings about entities, and removing entities. I usually don’t write much about this aspect of my work, mostly because it either tends to freak people out, or because people with no exposure to anything having to do with comparative religion, shamanism, mysticism, or the aforementioned groups think none of this is real. Unfortunately, it’s very real.

I’m a hereditary psychic, ( my grandmother was very gifted), and have been a Clairvoyant Empath and Medium my whole life. I was mentored in the old way, from childhood, through dreams and visions. I entered the convent at age 12 to become a Nun, dedicating my life to Spirit. After a year living as a postulant, my mother’s health crisis and hospitalization necessitated my return home, to care for her, and my three younger brothers. I became a student of world religions at thirteen.

There are a number of spiritual traditions that speak to my heart, Taoism, Native culture, the Druid teachings, and others. For the purpose of this blog I’m going to reference some Taoist teachings, which mirror teachings I’ve been shown over the course of my lifetime. Let’s look at some of those.

In Classical Chinese Medicine, ( rooted in Taoism), we have a number of definitions for entities. There are ghosts, ( beings that were human, that have died). These are called a P’o. Then there are demonic entities. These have never been human. They are called a Mor. Then we have the most cunning type, The extraterrestrial demonic entities, called a Yao, or Yaoguai. They are all different, and require different protocols to remove them. ( At some point in the future, I’m considering teaching a limited group of Healers how to differentiate between them, how to remove them, and how to do this safely for everyone).

The reason I’m writing this article is to validate what people are seeing unfolding now. I don’t exaggerate or dramatize, ever. I’m not interested in frightening people, fear stops healing energy. Rather, my intention is to alleviate the fear people are feeling about the unchecked cruel and inhumane actions being perpetrated by those in power now. When we understand what’s driving it, we can begin to deal with it. What’s driving it is darkness. The antidote to darkness is light. Not the airy fairy kind of light, but the light of the flaming sword of Truth, of Divine Justice. What needs to happen now is an exorcism on a mass scale, performed by regular people who choose to vote. The political party that has created the programs of tearing children from their parents is dark. The party that embraces racism and misogyny is dark. The party denying health care to millions is dark. The party exploiting the planet and denying basic science is dark.

We can restore compassion, tolerance, kindness and empathy, if we turn out in record numbers next month and vote the darkness out. This will result in a purge of the corrupt, the manipulative, the greedy, the heartless people who are running things now. I’m calling it an exorcism, because that’s what it is, and that’s what is needed now. And everyone can participate. You don’t have to have special gifts or training to do it. What you do need to do is push past the paralysis that evil induces. The feelings of hopelessness and despair, that your voice won’t matter. It will. It must. We need an army of light right now. The Republican Party is not what it once was, it has been corrupted. We need a new beginning.

My life’s work has been about spiritual counseling. I specialize in working with survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and torture. I’ve always said that Stephen King couldn’t write the things I hear. What I hear makes Stephen King look like Dr Seuss. I specialize in working with those who have been attacked by someone hosting an entity. I myself am an incest survivor. I love Carl Jung’s quote “ I am not defined by what happened to me. It’s what I choose to do with it that matters”. I also love the quote from Mother Jones, which is on my desk, “ Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living”.

It is time to fight like hell for the living. The planet, women, children, the environment. Evil will not prevail. I’ve been doing exorcisms my whole life, successfully. My work has been recognized by Native elders and a renowned Taoist Master. I’m sure about what we need to do to drive out the darkness. We can do this, but everyone needs to help. Be the light the world needs you to be now. Be brave. Be motivated. Let’s do it. Vote blue next month. Blessings, Rev Judith Star-Medicine

*** Quote by Albert Camus


Wild Women Don’t Get The Blues

I know that it’s been a rough few weeks, culminating in today’s fiasco of that alleged attempted rapist and all-around douchebag being confirmed to the Supreme Court. Take a little time to grieve, throw something, or whatever you need to do. I say, let’s use that anger in a powerful way. There’s an old song from the 1920’s by Ida Cox, called “ Wild Women Don’t Get The Blues”. I love that song. ( Listen to it on YouTube) This is a time for all of us to unite. Republicans have no idea what they’ve done, really. By disrespecting Dr Ford so blatantly, by their sham investigation, by their bullying, they have unleashed the accumulated rage of women everywhere. Every one of us has experienced being harassed, or sexually assaulted, or have been victims of domestic violence, or emotional abuse. What we just witnessed was a travesty, a travesty that reached our souls. The smugness, The dishonesties, the corruption that these men, greedy for power, displayed, was unbelievable. What it actually accomplished was the opposite of what they intended. Something snapped, on a collective level, for women.

I am not beaten. I am not discouraged. What I am, is fucking nuclear. Let’s be clear. If we vote, if we refuse to be cowed and bullied, if we stay on target, we can take back the House and the Senate in 4 fucking weeks. We can impeach Trump and Kavanaugh. He will be the second Supreme Court Justice in history to be impeached. We can do it. We are a force of nature. There are sworn affidavits that no one was allowed to see about him. He’s  unfit for the position.

So, give yourself a day or two to process. Then, it’s time to reach inside of yourself for your Wild Woman. Remember the Civil Rights Movement. People were beaten, oppressed, jailed. But they never gave up. Women fighting for the right to vote were beaten and arrested. They never gave up. We are all capable of heroism today. They’ve tried to control us, to control our reproductive freedoms, our rights over our own bodies. They’re still trying. I say, fuck that. No. They are not destroying all of the progress that has been made through blood, sweat, and tears. Wild women don’t get the blues. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back to the fight. As we do, we can help women who have suffered in silence heal. Dr Ford was courageous to come forward. Her story was our story. Her pain was our pain. They will not get away with silencing her, or us. This win is temporary. Very temporary.

The world is counting on us. We are the Light. We stand for Earth Mother and the Divine Feminine. We will not fail. Expect us. Blessings, Rev Judith Star-Medicine