Beautifully Human: Thoughts on Being an Energy Healer with Mental Illness
What Is the Intention?
"You don't have a mental illness. That's just something they tell you to make you feel like you've got something wrong with you." These were the words of an energy healer that I go to and like, but I strongly (silently) disagreed with her on this point.
I got my first certificate for Reiki this year in January. I began to use this form of healing on myself, then family and friends I felt comfortable with. In July, I opened a metaphysical business with a friend, intending to do Reiki on clients. But I regularly see people in the energy healing world who might agree with the person noted in my first paragraph, who might even judge or look down on me for my struggles and seeking treatment for Bipolar I.
Just this morning, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw a post by another Reiki/IET practitioner who mentioned "fakey Reiki" and how a lot of people who give energy healing have no business doing it (because they drink, don't clear themselves properly, etc.). But in the Reiki manuals used in the classes, it says anyone can give Reiki because we are not the healers ourselves. It is a fallacy and fear-mongering to say that we can pick up the ailments of the healer or the recipient when giving/receiving Reiki. The so-called "healer" is merely the channel for it. I have witnessed a lot of pressure being put on those who practice a form of energy healing; we feel like we have to give up our human-ness and be living and walking Buddhas to be "good enough" to channel this healing for others. But my teachers have repeated again and again: your intention is key.
And I have to wonder: what is the intention of those who judge or who tell someone diagnosed with mental illness that they are not mentally ill? What is the intention of those who deem others unfit to channel healing energy?
Whatever that intention is, it does not seem to align with what I know and understand as Spirit.
Mental Illness Isn't a Choice
In my own energy healing practice, I would never go against a medical doctor's diagnosis of a person or contradict anything that the doctor said or told the patient to do. You play a dangerous game when you tell someone that their problem isn't real, and you can also cause them a lot of undue confusion. You could literally be playing with his or her life. As a channel for Reiki, my only job is to listen to the client's concerns, channel the healing energy, and allow it to work for the highest good (as it always will) of the recipient. I never wish to cause any confusion or further anxiety for the person.
That aside, mental illness is real, and for quite some time now, we have known it is backed by science.
My mother was diagnosed with chronic depression. She was an extremely intelligent woman, and after she passed, I was astonished as I went through her library. She had so many self-help books, including several of the ones I have heard about and read for myself. Her intellect was not only evidenced by how she lived her life, but by what she wrote.
My mother was well-versed in spirituality and self-help, but she still struggled. I have been attuned to Master-level Reiki and Advanced Integrated Energy Therapy, received multiple healing sessions, rearranged my life and habits in an effort to feel better, gone to spirituality groups, maintained healthy social connections - and I still struggle. Hard and often.
"Madness is a rotten guest," Marya Hornbacher wrote in her book about bipolar, entitled Madness. "You can tell it to leave till you're blue in the face. Eventually, you give up and go back to bed, shutting the door."
Feeling Nothing About Everything
I can imagine that the practitioner I went to, who told me that I do not have a mental illness, had kind intentions. If I had a tumor and went to her, and she told me I didn't really have a tumor, I'd probably be thrilled. But I would also want a second opinion from my medical doctor. I am not going to treat a mood disorder differently just because it is invisible. It is invisible to the rest of the world, but not to me.
Today, I was having what, in Holley terms, is a good day. I was productive and went for a walk. I met my step goal on my Fitbit. I finished a book. I talked to some friends. But after dinner, just like that, I came crashing down. The racing thoughts and doubts weighed on me. I climbed into my bed, promising myself I wouldn't bury myself under the covers and sleep. I looked at my phone. Looked at my cat. Tried to wrestle the blankets from under her, but she wouldn't move. I lay on my stomach and fell asleep, telling myself I'd get work done later, feeling nothing about everything. And sometimes that's what it is like. Sometimes, that is a whole day for me rather than just a small portion of it.
For someone to tell me that's not —that I have power over that crushing nothingness, that I can easily just choose to be happy—that's like telling me I don't have a virus when I'm throwing up everywhere. That if I just hold in my puke, I'll be fine. (Sorry for the analogy. But it's true.)
Keep Shining Your Light
After I saw that post on my Instagram feed about "fakey Reiki" this morning, I honestly felt like throwing in the towel. Doing regular work at a retail job and writing my book in my spare time felt like the best way to go because it seems like people are not as much in your business (quite literally) when you are not active in the field of energy medicine. I have wanted to talk a lot more about mood disorders in my writing, but I haven't for that very reason. The stigma is still, unfortunately, very real.
I hope that in the near future, the world—spiritual sector and all—can be more welcoming and less judgmental. I try to stay in my lane, for the most part, but it felt necessary to be a voice for those experiencing this same dilemma. Perhaps the more we can put it to words and bring it to awareness, the more we can help people see that it is not a choice. Let's put to rest the belief that we cannot be beautifully human and a channel for higher energy, simultaneously. Of course, I would never try to channel an energy healing when I am in a low place. But on my better days, when I am hearing Spirit and feeling connected to all that is, I know I can truly help people. I have helped people.
To withdraw that gift entirely from the world, just because I am not perfect, would be a tragedy.
Madness: A Bipolar Life
This book by Marya Hornbacher really helped me understand and accept what I personally have been facing. She also seems spiritually aware and does the mindfulness exercises, but she shares in a way that helps you see and understand how crippling and uncontrollable mental illness is. She also puts it into words in a poignant (and sometimes disturbingly humorous) way. I will probably write a review of this book soon but wanted to share it here too because it helped me while I was stewing over the naysayers.
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