Monday, December 24, 2007

Joshua Kreig's Ninth Annual Christmas Message

…A year of heartbreak and insanity…I found yoga…A year of joy and hope…I am crazy…I love life…Matters of influence…Fragments collected…

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)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ladybug/bird/beelte many names many things

I was on the deck the other day and saw this and had to capture the moment in images in the wonderful late afternoon light. Having know the ladybug as a symbol of luck it was interesting at this point in time to learn this:

"Ladybug: The Ladybug is associated with spirituality and religious devotion. The name Ladybug originated in Europe during the Middle Ages, when insects were destroying the crops. Catholic farmers were said to have prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon after, Ladybugs appeared and began eating the pests and saved the crops from destruction. The farmers began to call the Ladybugs “the Beetles of Our Lady” and eventually they were known as Lady Beetles. The Ladybug's red wings are said to represent the Virgin's cloak and the black spots her joys and sorrows.

The Ladybug is widely considered a symbol of luck and is seen as a good omen when it comes calling. In Sweden, it is said that if one lands on a young woman's hand, she will soon get married. In France, it is said that if you are ill when one lands on you, it will fly away with your illness.

Ladybugs are also considered to be symbols of fire and the Sun. Ladybug teaches life is short and it teaches to let go of ones' worries and fears, to trust in spirit and enjoy life. It brings the gifts of renewal and regeneration."


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bipolar Fun Fact #1 or, the trouble with joshua - He's not FUN!

I am not fun.

I am funny - downright hilarious at times.

I am fun to be around and there are times when I am having a lot of fun.

I find things funny. I like to have fun.

But to be fun is to be light - to live the moment in breathless wonder of each discovery while seeing the torrents and tedious steps as part of a joyful whole.

There are moments I am that piece of theory. There are moments of fun. But there is a lot of darkness around that fun.

I was dating a guy once and he said that one of the lessons he learned in life is to tell people when we are having fun with them. I sometimes forget to do that. Even when we are alone and catch ourselves having fun we should acknowledge it. For that is the moment we are looking for. Fun. Simple.

Sometimes the wiring in my brain gets so screwed up I don’t even realise it is until it reaches a critical mass. Critical mass can take many forms. Usually it means I stop having the ability to rationally understand the world around me. Everything takes on its worst form, craziest form, intense form, joyful form, darkest form or a little of each. That is the difficult thing about this thing it is always adapting and morphing.

I hit critical mass many times in April. Cleanup time.

Bipolar Fun Fact Affect – Relationships suffer.

Imagine all the craziness of a relationship and having in that relationship episodes of great emotional instability. That is NO FUN!! And worst is they are very unpredictable.

Every guy I have gotten to know recently talks about all the fun things they are planning on doing. Most of it involves a lot of travelling. I can travel but if I was to take a long and distant trip it would have to be planned with the knowledge that there will be meltdowns along the way. That is NO FUN!

Friendships suffer. My closest friends know and understand this illness a little. But there have been many times our time together has been robbed.

Nobody wants to be around someone who is not FUN! I don’t even want to be around me then.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sakura in High Park

The Japanese celebration of Hanami centers around the delicate and beautiful cherry blossom (sakura) tree. The cherry blossom blooms for a very short while each spring. The windier the spring the shorter the bloom.

It is during this time you will see people sitting under trees having a meal spending time with nature.

The cherry blossom is a joyful symbol of life.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

When Goodbye Is Right

The other night a person I am fond of had this MSN tagline, “goodbye love, thanks it was a wild ride”.

Letting go of any relationship is difficult. I was having difficulty letting go; Daisuke and I cannot be lovers. But that tagline put it in perspective for me.

When Daisuke and I met at the beginning of July 2006 it was suppose to be a casual hook up. He did not want a relationship in his life. He just ended his four year relationship a few months previously. I was still working on my own health issues and did not feel I had enough handle on it to invite someone to share my life. Also I was helping my sister deal with her health issues. My career was providing great satisfaction. The weather was beautiful. The complexities of a relationship did not seem wanted.

But something happened on that afternoon. We felt a connection. Beyond a really hot afternoon we realised there was a similarity in feeling. We decided we owed it to ourselves to explore that connection. We felt emotions in a similar way; over the next 6 months that would become more evident. Whenever we were together it was as if our hearts were sharing some of the same place. It was comfortable and effortless. Sometimes when we were together it felt like two people in the same space sharing a body. Often it was hard to tell where one body began and ended. Yourself and mixed with that person at the same time. You wish you could just melt into them.

But because we had that potential for high then there is the potential for the low. Daisuke does not analyse his feelings. He feels them. Because we connected, when I went down he went down with me. That hurt us both in more ways than one. But regardless of the down time I liked who I was with him in the good times. I was a nice me.

Over that six months we loved, laughed, and played to a wonderfully high level. We had many great experiences. I have the pictures to prove it. We also seemed to appreciate things at a similar level. Wine, food, skies, sex, music, and more. I found myself getting closer and closer to him but on some level I knew the ride was ending. It was not the right time for either of us. We are still learning to find the right place in each others lives since getting off the ride. Time will play its role. But I think we will always know that we touched each others life. I think we will always be two people who enjoy each others company.

Though that was a good rational decision it always takes the heart a little while to catch up. We would all be lying if we did not admit that in every casual encounter there is a sliver of desire or hope that this person be THE person. That is where saying a goodbye to a possible relationship is difficult. Funny thing about my heart, it likes to let itself be informed by my brain. I realised I just had to figure out a way to say this to myself so I could help my heart move on.

We cannot command anyone’s presence in our lives but be thankful for the shared moments. We can anticipate with joy not hope, with desire not thought, with now not tomorrow. It would be arrogant folly to think that just because we desire a person they should desire us back in the exact way we wish. The lover has no freedom. And no one should want a lover in a cage.

It has been a wild ride!! SONOTORI!


This is also worth saying here. When I am not in a bipolar swing I can think all these thoughts and truly believe them and feel them. When I am down it robs me of all of this.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Profound Sadness

I am sad.

There seems something rather odd about saying that after a bipolar depressive episode I feel sad. A profound sadness, a by-product of depression, floods my heart.

Depression is the numbing loss of hope where everything is rendered meaningless, tasteless, colourless. No joy, no peace, no love, no future. Darkness. Nothing but fucking grey darkness. Not even kind enough to be total black. Grey. Shadows. Echoes of joy, faint, barely audible in the darkness. I use to be happy?

Death is a worthy option when the psyche is dying a slow death to nothingness.

The sadness is all awareness. Awareness of how bipolar steals my time, my love, my peace, my center, my laughter. At these moments there is a profound sense of loss.

Three men have been in my life over the last four years and bipolar stole them from me. I know this ugliness was a part of their decision not to continue with me. The most recent lover to leave stings the most because my heart progressed further with him. He said, “It is too scary to love you.”

In the movie BABEL there is a scene with a young Japanese girl who is deaf and mute. She is playing in a games arcade with a female friend when a boy who thinks she is cute comes up behind her and says hello. He thinks she does not hear him so he taps her on the shoulder. When he quickly discovers she is a deaf mute he politely bows a little and backs away.

No one says, “Let me date the cripple!”

How many times do and will potential lovers back away from a deeper intimacy with me because bipolar is too much to ask them to take on? I am never angry or upset with a person because they back away from this. I would probably do the same thing. I understand. It still sucks.

The normal challenges of life are difficult. Living with a partner with a permanent health issue is more than challenging. I think it would be different if the illness came after the relationship had a chance to build a foundation. I think it is necessary for any potential lover to know very soon after something starts that there is a permanent health issue that will influence our life. There will be days of ugliness. I expect all will walk.

I am a very silly and childlike and playful guy who can think big thoughts and pick his nose. I can debate philosophy and can pig out on super chocolate fudge ice cream while watching cartoons. I want to go on great adventures with someone. Bipolar steals that from me.

When I travel I can have and have had bipolar attacks. Pressure and time zones have something to do with it. I have to limit how many projects I take on and where I can look for work. I have to monitor my stress level and personal health too much. And the part that really pisses me off and really saddens is that no matter what I do there will always be the dark days. The days I cannot talk or reach out. The noise in my brain causes so much negative energy and pain that I cannot move through it. It is like watching a movie of yourself doing and saying and thinking things that you know are not your true actions, words, or thoughts. This madness takes over leaving all rational thought and emotional maturity paralysed.

The sadness is over this tremendous loss of time. There is a part of me that believes the illness will win. It has already beaten me on occasion. A part of the sadness is that my resilience will end. Instead of bending in the storm I will break. One day one episode will occur and I will not recover. There is a part of me in the midst of the sadness that wishes the darkness will swallow me and get it over with – why bother.

I feel my spirit is being chipped away at. And we all know no one will buy anything that is chipped.

But there is still hope in my heart. The silly child is in there. I am having a bit of difficulty remembering to play after the storm. Maybe in the times of peace the hope can grow. At least regain its strength to live a few moments of peace. To find joy and laughter.