Spiritual Crisis/Spiritual Awakening?

In April of 1995 I had a psychotic breakdown. I believe this breakdown was, in effect, the single most important factor in my current mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. While the breakdown seemed sudden, it was, as will be shown, more accurately, a culmination of a series of events, and a gradual deterioration (or wearing down) of my psyche.

The "Invitation".

In the summer of 1993, I suddenly received an announcement from NYU where I had been pursuing a doctoral degree several years prior. The announcement stated that I had only a certain time left to take courses before my matriculation would be terminated. I contacted the school, and went in to go over my transcript. I did not have a Master's degree at that point because I had chosen to go directly into doctoral study.

Well, the announcement was in error. I had not actually been matriculated for quite some time. It provided, however, the impetus behind my decision to complete one semester of study so that I could have a Master's degree in my chosen field. In fact, I felt an urgency to do this, although I had no idea why.

I received my Master's degree in January of 1994. It would come to pass that this degree was the "missing ingredient" I had been lacking up to this point in my pursuance of a career that would provide an adequate living. Since then, I have had no problem obtaining employment.

The Car Accident.

In February of 1994, on Ash Wednesday, I had a major car accident that nearly ended my life.

I was driving on I-95 in CT, a dangerous, three-lane, narrow highway, which, at that time, was under construction. As a result of the construction, there was no shoulder on the left, and, instead there was a cement barrier.

I was lost in thought, and suddenly found my car careening into the center lane (I had been driving in the left-hand lane) because my car had "bounced" off the cement divider. I feverishly veered back into the left lane, over-compensated, and went head-on into the cement divider. My car flipped up and over the divider, and I landed upside down on the other side.

During the accident, I was suddenly enveloped in a cocoon of what I can only describe as "loving bliss and comfort" and I was given a choice to die or remain. I was told that my husband would die in the near future, and so my children (although grown) were a reason to stay. I don't actually remember all that was said, but I do remember the feeling of love and understanding, and I know that I longed to be with the source of the love.

I escaped this accident with a minor cut on my forehead, along with some sore muscles. That was all, and the medical personnel, both at the scene, and later in the hospital emergency room, told me again-and-again that I "should be dead". Meanwhile, I was so calm, I am sure they thought the seriousness of the accident escaped me.

In reality, it did not, but I knew that I was not injured, ( despite their insisting on monitoring me) and I knew that there were going to be some hard times ahead, although I didn't, at that time, remember exactly what.

For several months after the accident, I was very depressed. I could not even look for another car to replace the one I had totaled, but, rather, rented one for at least three months. The depression was interspersed with anger. I did not, at that time, have a clue about it's origin. I now think that I was unconsciously angry about having to remain here since I had gotten a "taste" of the unconditional love that awaits us "on the other side". It was actually something that felt familiar and vaguely remembered, and I know I said to this loving presence that I was "so tired". But, I made a decision, and I really have never totally regretted it. In fact, I now embrace the life I have, and have much gratitude for this "second" chance to follow my chosen path.

The Breakdown.

From May of 1994 to March of 1995, I emerged from my depression, and became more-and-more manic.

At that time, I was in working-through therapy for childhood abuse issues, and, although I was doing a teaching fellowship at NYU, I spent many, many hours a day writing, painting, and singing (and making tapes). I became very interested in metaphysical matters, and purchased a deck of tarot cards which I would use over-and-over again asking the same question. The same cards would display, again over-and-over again. I read voraciously.

I began to meditate, but instead of achieving a state of relaxation and inner peace, this practice contributed to my constant state of agitation. It was as if too much energy was passing through my body.

Despite the fact that I was taking medication for dissociative tendencies (Klonopin), I found myself dissociating more often, and I began to believe that I did not need solid food, but needed only liquid sustenance. For months, I lived totally on liquid nutritional supplements, along with cup-after-cup of coffee, and two-to-three packs of cigarettes a day.

In January of 1995, I began to believe that I was in love with my male therapist, and I believed that he felt the same. These feelings were very unacceptable to me because I deeply loved my husband of 26 years, and I could not understand how I could be in love with two men. I began to obsess about this situation, and it quickly became the sole focus of my life.

This obsession was so all-consuming, I began to visit and call psychics to ask about it's possible outcome. I read metaphysical books constantly, and this burning question was the subject of my solitary tarot and meditation sessions. I slept very little for several months, and it was not unusual for me to be awake until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.

In March, I had to resign from my teaching position. I was still functioning there, but I was becoming so paranoid, that it was becoming more and more difficult for me to leave the house. I became afraid of everyone, and nearly everything. I read the Celestine Prophecy, and I became certain that I was destined, along with my therapist, to "save the world".

In April, the fear had finally reached such huge proportions, I was having terror attacks on a daily basis. I had more difficulty sleeping, but I continued to consume large quantities of coffee. I began to believe that my therapist and I would magically know when it was the "right" time to move in together and begin our messianic activities.

All during this time, he did not know how bad I was, and it was not until the last time I saw him before the actual "break" that he realized that my thinking was "not right".

On Good Friday, I took off in my car and decided this was the time to meet my therapist. I drove aimlessly, believing that my intuition would lead me to where I would meet him. I had very little gas in my car, but I believed my thoughts would keep the gas tank full of enough gas to get me there. I had to stop the car several times when the terror I felt became too great to contain, and I went into deeply wooded areas to scream. Finally, my car ran out of gas, and I was stuck on the side of a lonely mountain road. A police car drove up after a while, and I know the officer in the car suspected I was not in my right mind because he called a paramedic. Somehow I was able to convince the officer to call my husband, and to convince the paramedic that I was sane. I was not.

My husband came, and I clung to him. This was the beginning of my healing. He brought me gas, and we finally followed each other home. I was finally able to tell him of my terror, and to tell him of my feelings about my therapist. Most important, I was able to tell him of my deep love for him, and of the conflict I felt about my feelings.

That weekend was, beyond a doubt, the most terrifying time I can ever imagine having. That night, I could not sleep, but kept imagining that there were powers that could read my every thought, and I believed that all the appliances, the TV, and the computer, were instruments of these "powers". My husband held me through this all, and reassured me again and again that "it was just a memory", or "it is all right".

I was able to cook dinner on Easter Sunday, but I kept going in-and-out of terror and psychosis. It was so bad, my husband took the following week off from work to stay home with me.

Bill, my husband, was a very intelligent and patient man. He began to lose his patience, however, sometime during the next week, and urged me to go to the hospital. I refused, and told him that I needed to be held and comforted. I also began to eat solid food, and I weaned myself off the Klonopin. I also began to research nutritional supplements, and decided that Bill and I should start exercising. This was despite my episodes of terror. I prayed every night for help, and I affirmed to myself that I would be "healthier and stronger" each morning when I awoke. I was.

After several more weeks, I felt strong enough to begin to venture out of my house again. In a month's time, I was feeling healthier than I had felt for several years.

I quit therapy.

The Aftermath.

I emerged from this experience with a greater belief in spiritual guidance and assistance. Before the episode, I was not particularly convinced that there was "any help anywhere". Afterwards, I knew there was. I also emerged with a much greater sense of self-efficacy. I now know that we are each the authors of our own realities, and we each have the power within to heal and to grow.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there is no greater healing power than the power of love. Bill, despite my feelings about my therapist, was so willing to be there for me, and so willing to listen to what I knew I needed. No hospital or therapist's office could have remotely provided what this man gave to me.

Bill died almost exactly one year after my breakdown, and, largely because of what he had done for me, I was able to get through it knowing that everything that had happened before had, in some way, prepared me for this incredibly painful experience.

Today I am highly functional, and self-sufficient. I continue to strive for spiritual growth, and I maintain a deep belief in the power of love, and in the presence of "angelic" assistance.

Most of all, I believe in the magnificence of each of us, including myself.

-Ellen Edwards

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