This ninth year of Christmas finds me sitting down to write in a way I have never felt when writing before. This is the first year I write from a place of joy and hope in my heart.
At the end of 2006 I had my heart broken with the only man I have fallen in love with since Singapore 2001. The stresses of bipolar were affecting so many things with us. As he said so eloquently, “The more I am around you the more bipolar I become. I don’t like that.”
It took the first six months of 2007 to get perspective on all that. It hurt long. And even the other night we had a Christmas celebration together I continued to gain a little needed perspective. I learned a lot from Daisuke. I love him dearly. The successes of 2007 could not have happened without Daisuke being there in 2006. I try to be Zen. Daisuke is Zen. Simple and steady. Walking through the world with a sense of awe and discovery. Definitely a candidate for most influential person in my life this year.
I knew my health was not what it should be to start a relationship and I am glad we did not try. It would have been disastrous. I love him too much to put him through that madness. But losing a guy because of Bipolar stung. The illness was yet again bigger than me. Bigger than what I thought I could do or offer someone. That caused a downward spiral.
Around this time I was beginning to feel that the latest round of meds and my personal health and life choices were not working. I was becoming a rapid cycle bipolar. In one day I would go through multiple mood states from high to low.
In April I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. I had given my doctor and other practical wisdom since 2001 to fix this. I decided to fix it myself. In April I began a journey to better health. I took two months off from work. I stopped talking medications.
I stripped my life down to the bare essentials of health and nutrition. I let my body detoxify. I had never approached this from a basic health perspective. I needed to see what a peak efficiency Joshua brain and body would function like. At the same time I started to practice yoga. This has saved my life. I have been practicing a form of hot yoga called Moksha three times a week for over nine months. Recently I did a 30 Day Challenge that stretched my mind and body in ways I did not think it could go. With a combination of Yoga, Nutrition, Meditation, Alternative Medicine I am healthier than I have ever been.
There is still a long way to go but the directions things are going are fantastic.
As alluded to earlier, this year can also be categorised with a most influential person review. So far we have Daisuke.
Bruce Chung. Bruce has been a part of the discovery of two of the four ways I am currently treating bipolar. I never take this for granted. Bruce has been my yogic companion these nine months and I believe will be for some time to come.
I have learned a lot through my friendship with Bruce. It has been fraught with great joy and pain. But in the end only the joy remains. For me to dislike Bruce would be to dislike yoga. They are so connected. Yoga is keeping me alive. I cannot see a healthy future without the practice.
In March of 2008 Bruce and I are going on a journey to India. Supposedly predicted by a psychic and then confirmed by a medium. Who knew? Not I. We will be doing the first month of an 11 month training course in the birthplace of yoga. India. I am still a little unreal about it. Needless to say we are individually and collectively rather excited. I have been doing a bit of fundraising to get my poor white trash ass over there. I want to say a big thank you to those who have sponsored the 30 Day Challenge. Also some close friends have really shown their love and belief in me. Thank you. It is written on my heart.
I will be doing a yoga class fundraiser in the New Year for friends to experience it all. (More cash needed ahem clears throat.)
I am crazy. No nice paragraph transition. I am crazy. And I want to thank Jeffrey and Adam for helping me realise that it is okay to be crazy and often it is more an asset than a liability. The only problem is good is really good and bad is really bad.
Jeffrey I first met in New York in 1999. Adam I first met a mere two months ago. I was listening to Jeffrey go on and on about something one day and I realised he was plumb crazy. I told him so. And without skipping a beat and with such candour as if he was merely telling me the sky is blue he says, “So are you.”
I realised he was right. It is the secret to our endearing friendship. I realised sanity and insanity are such interesting human constructions with a lot of flexibility. I kind of relaxed a bit. Jeffrey is simply Jeffrey. He does things and thinks things that not a lot of people do or think. Does that make him crazy? Does that make me crazy? I use to fear going crazy. But when you accept you have already been there for quite some time you just stop fighting it which frees up energy for more fecund pursuits.
Adam on the other hand is same make and model crazy like me. Adam and I just looked at each other and saw the darkness. He recognised it first. I never recognise other bipolar people as I would not wish it on my enemy. We met at a time of darkness for both of us. It was so nice to be with someone where there was nothing to explain. I will be seeing Adam in February in London before heading to India. I look forward to that comfort. Crossing time zones and geography and altitude is very hard on the bipolar brain. Adam will be a good lightening rod in London. He will help ground me for the leg to India.
Where Adam grounds my darkness I recently met someone who grounds my light. Whenever Berchman and I are together I am the most gentle, calmest, attentive person. I am so aware of my mood states. Adam and I can walk around in each others heads and look at the monsters and not question anything. Berchman and I walk around in each others heads and point out the nice things we see. We make silly faces at the not so nice things we see and let them be and feel just a little sad for them. Adams knows the five year old in me who is very angry at the world. Berchman knows the five year old who takes joy in the world.
Berchman drew the portrait here. I think it captures my cockiness and that “don’t try that shit with me” “I got your number” aspect of my personality. He also drew it from what he saw as my internal age as opposed to my physical age. Very kind indeed. And the hair looks fantastic.
Jeffrey helped me accept I am crazy, Adam helped me accept the darkness, and Berchman helped me stay in the light. They have helped me reach a state of calmness (equanimity) with who I am as a person by just being themselves. And letting me be me. For some interesting reason these three people ground parts of me that need grounding. Definitely candidates for the most influential person.
Another candidate for most influential is the dynamics between my sister and me. We went through a paradigm shift this year. For many years we have been companions on roads that have been often very painful. This past year we have taken a path where we can find more individual strength. Our healing required time for us to explore outside each other. I think there has been marvellous growth for both of us. I think in some way we have been quietly inspiring each other as we reach new levels of health. I look forward to our further explorations.
Daniel Oliveira deserves honourable mention. Daniel and I have had the luxury of working with each other yet again. Daniel and I are the model for what I call the perfect working relationship. What I can’t do he can. What he can’t do I can. We have a marvellous synergy and trust each other implicitly. This trust is based on a profound respect for each others talents. We created a pilot project for Rotman School of Management that may yield good future fruits.
My roomie Mattie the gentle giant has been my summer long extended into fall impromptu partner. Many bottles of wine have been consumed on the deck with hours of fabulous ravings and bullshit. Mattie has been a calm and a joy. He has called me on my bullshit and supports me on my journey. He too is blossoming on his journey of life as he faces new career challenges with competency and skills that surprise him and all those around him. The man knows his shit.
And the winner of the most influential person is. Bruce Chung. Without Bruce I would be dead. I have grown so much this year as a result of his direct and indirect influence - and most of it is positive.
But Bruce is 25 and young and there are many times I want to strangle his bitch ass!! I am sure he says the same of me. The strangling part that is not the young part. It is with Bruce that I get to practice and talk about yoga off the mat. Yoga is only truly useful when it can help us in our daily lives. It is with Bruce that my practice is grown and also challenged. He and I are so different that conflicts naturally arise. So far we seem to weather them.
It is in these times that the true benefits of yoga shine. I find I still feel things intensely but I do not let the negative shit drag me down. And I am learning to not let the positive things create unrealistic expectations. I have as many failures as successes at doing that by the way. My favourite word this past month: equanimity. So good, so hard, so needed.
The biggest thing I have noticed about 2007 is the darkness has lifted. I once again feel bigger than bipolar. Even in times of distress the darkness does not cripple. It is still there and raises its ugly head from time to time but it does not cripple. And with that has come a sense of joy and hope. Many of my friends say they see a difference, everything from a completely different person to a more calm approach to things. This does not mean I am all OOMMMMM! There are many people who can attest to my many errors this year.
But that is just it. Regardless of the shit, I love life again. I am excited. I look forward to the future as opposed to dreading it. I am at peace with my past as opposed to being haunted by it. I am learning to walk in the moment and really see and listen. This is my life’s practice. That is my yoga on and off the mat.
During all previous life transitions I feel as if I have aged whenever there has been a moment of enlightenment as to how the world works. This year yoga has provided some profound changes and moments of enlightenment and for some reason I feel younger. Yes yoga can make you younger too.
The Sanskrit word “Namaste” is used to close yoga classes. It means the divine in me recognises the divine in you and bows to it. What a lovely idea don’t you think, especially for Christmas?
If regardless of cultures and creeds, lifestyles and choices, loves and conflicts, we could look at each other and see the divine that exist in both and show it the reverence it deserves?
Merry Christmas and may love and peace be yours.
(December 24, 2007)