An article on mental health that I will be posting on Witchvox. Rights belong to ME, so no stealing :)
Let's begin by making a few things about schizophrenia clear. It commonly involves psychotic episodes in which we hallucinate (usually audio or visual), have severe mood swings, unrealistic delusions and sometimes even black outs, losing hours to days at a time. This is often accompanied by a paranoia or a disconnection from reality. Sometimes it involves multiple personality, but most of the time this is not the case. Some people mistakenly think that we schizotypals are sociopaths, which is not always true. I hardly think I would have made it this far with Wicca if I couldn't feel empathy.
My problem is what most with some sort of mood or psychotic disorder has: what's real and what's crossed wires in the brain?
It is a real and true challenge to fully understand our position with the divine. Many of us claim to be speaking with God (rarely have I met anyone who claims to be speaking to a Goddess), or other voices that belong to several beings. Demons? Faeries? Those who have crossed the Veil? All of which are commitable offenses to the mental health community, but when this sort of thing is the norm in a commune within a circle (or outside the confines of one in many cases), drawing the line between psychosis and reality becomes monstrously difficult.
Perhaps it has something to do with how we are incarnated, how receptive we are to astral happenings and how our minds are equipped to handle such encounters. For me, having a conversation with a dryad spirit is just as real as speaking to a fellow human being. What you would see is some nut-job chatting it up with a tree. Tell me that doesn't sound crazy.
Someone once told me that to tell the difference between spirit noise and internal chatter was to try to figure out the motive of the voice. If it tells you to hurt yourself or others, it's psychosis. I’m pretty sure I disagree at least a little. Our Shadow Selves often berate us with self doubt and sometimes detrimentally harmful advice if not handled properly. It's not all rainbows and farts on the other side of the Veil you know, though some of the more “fluffy” aspects of Paganism would claim that only positivity could be found in a true encounter with a spirit. Hey, every sect of belief has some bad eggs out there, and I think it would be foolish to assume that spirit folk don't have any themselves.
So how DO I tell the difference between astral entities and voices in my head?
It's not easy, it never has been and probably never will be. First thing I do is ground and center, then I check my aura and chakras reaction to the voice. If it is attached to me by a chord or within my own energy field, I can safely assume that its merely mental chatter. Even my Shadow Self has its special place in my energy field, and I keep tabs on it closely. If the entity is not a part of my own energy field, then I can assume that it is separate from me, and can be reasoned with to depart (or share some thoughts on whatever might be an issue that day). It could mean the difference between lighting some incense and candles or casting a banishing circle, opinion of the voice pending.
I by no means discourage people like me to not take their medicine, but its interfering properties can sometimes throw me for a loop. Ever hear that expression “My mind is so open my brains fall out?” I can feel that those of us with some kind of psychotic disorder have this problem. We are too receptive, and like moths to a flame, both internal and external forces are drawn to our minds. Things get pretty tangled up in there if too much is going on, and it can be dangerously overwhelming.
Learning to channel that energy properly is key to sorting out the chaos of the mind. Talking with faeries is fun, but there needs to be a line drawn between those mischievous things rearranging your sock drawer and a paranoia of someone actually messing with your belongings. A little research might be in order. What kind of faeries like to move things about to get a rise out of you? Is there any other evidence that eludes to having any of the fae in your household? Perhaps simply asking them to leave you alone might be in order, at least until you can sort out exactly which energy is where within and without you.
Some would say listen to your intuition on the matter, but what most don't realize that schizophrenic folk have nothing but doubt in their minds sometimes, and no amount of reasoning can make one believe one thing over another. There very well may be a guardian angel in your presence, but on the flip side demons are a very real thing, and most are self generated into a life of their own. Not to say that they are nothing but evil troublemakers, some of my best advice comes from beings of a lower vibration than myself. Just like with people, their words need to taken with a grain of salt.
If it is determined that a being is separate from yourself and its presence is unwelcome, some banishing spellwork might be in order. Again, the difference from a malicious spirit and the Shadow Self may be hard to distinguish. Either way, making allies with either of them could prove beneficial. To face one's fears – as irrational as they can be with us schizotypals – can prove to be a strengthening of sorts. Taking control of the illness can be aided greatly with a firm grip on whats real and what's not, a protective circle (even if its just to make yourself feel safer) and possibly the correct medication combination. Be wary of what you put into yourself, friends; antipsychotics tend to deaden some sixth sense perception as well as everyday emotion. I suppose its up to how open you want your mind to be, and what you can handle as someone who is mentally ill.
As for me, I’m still working on that reality boundary, and will probably struggle with it to my dying day. But I like to think of it as a challenge. I am incarnate right now in this body with all of its merits and flaws, and I must make the most of it if I want a degree of happiness. To open one's mind, sometimes you take in the good as well as the bad, and our job is to sort out what is a healthy dose of fear and a realistic take on happiness.