Monday, May 16, 2011

Out of the Closet

   Ok, out I come . . . a 58-year-old bipolar-afflicted person. It has taken me so long to accept this condition as "real." And even longer to realize that possibly the 2 poles are that bipolar disorder is an affliction and a gift at the same time. The increased sensitivity brings me hell or visions and creativity.
   What I don't know is how the disorder is seen in relation to Tibetan Buddhism. Though, as I look at the patterns of this life, many people, monks, groups have cast me out, despite especially, a group I had contributed to and participated in for 11 years. I was one of the longest-lasting members of a local monastery, yet was rarely permitted to have any ongoing responsibility. The stigma of the disorder turned into gossip that "mickey is crazy."
   Gosh, it's hard to accept oneself when most people around me haven't ever experienced the extreme anxiety and dark hell of the disorder. If something is not understood, it is dispensed with. Yet, in order to open and soften my heart, I intend to love and accept this unusual rebirth myself . . . as we all have to do. We are born alone and die alone. I want to be capable of relieving the suffering of beings of all kinds. Yet guidance within Tibetan Buddhism remains non-specific to this condition. Do any Dharma practitioners out there have some helpful advice or knowledge or experience to share concerning this issue?
   And like I've said before: Enlightenment or Bust!


  1. Mickey-- I want you to know that I too have been diagnosed as bi-polar and adult ADD. I've spent innumerable nights starring at the ceiling while darkened specters dragged my naked brain over a universe of imperfection. Deprived of sleep, the "Land of the Normal" ...daytime follows predictably shoving your face in indicators of your incompleteness.
    My dominant trait is that I see irony in everything. It has been a journey learning to embrace it as a strength. I could give you many examples, but I will assume you want your dream, not mine. My guess is that there are likely equal times when you thought differently than someone or a group and actually had the more virtuous outlook. I'd be interested to know what you think about that. -Bill Fox

  2. Mickey,

    I am glad you wrote about this.

    As you know, I consider you John's and my first and BEST lay teacher. We learned so much from your gentle, patient teaching.

    I know that it broke your heart to not be given responsibilities at the monastery, and I do not minimize this pain; I know how much it hurt you. However, perhaps because you aren't focused on paying the monastery light bill or making sure the grass gets cut, you are able to practice your beloved Dharma every day with the devotion, duration and intensity of a lay nun.

    I know that your singleminded pursuit of enlightenment and Buddhist equanimity and knowledge is what sets you apart from most Westerners, but also links you to the rest of us who so desperately need your reminder that we are not just here to buy groceries, do laundry and pay bills.

    Your perspective and experience are important to me and I am grateful to know you.

    With much love,
    Your Fledgling Dharma Sister,