Wandering Through Purgatory: A Time Of Self-Reflection

Ready. Set. Sail!

After a few days of recovery, I awake in my small little boat somewhat groggy. The cold whirlwind of rapid emotional cycling has finally settled down and I’m so thankful I survived. As I roll over onto my back, I find myself staring up at that same beautiful array of stars gently fading into the red orange glow of dawn. Hope has finally sunk in to my worn out heart. As I begin to sit up, I notice that I’m surrounded by sand. I’ve made it to the shoreline! I’ve successfully made it out of the middle of the Firth back to stable ground! I’d thank God but I’m not sure if he/she even listens to me anymore. As far as I can tell, the Depression is finally over. Good! Because I’m fucking over it.

Having increased my Lamictal to 200mg, I had no idea I’d go through such a torrent of emotions to make it back to baseline. My psychiatrist could’ve warned me. She gave me the OK to continue and confirmed that I’m probably good for now. That’s as much as I can hope for. As I said before, Bipolar rarely ever gives me a break. While I have the opportunity, I’ll pack my bags and move onward. Ahead of me lies the Trail of Stability. As much as I can tell, the road curves around a dense set of trees. Whereas there is a misty Fog hovering inside, it’s thin, quiet, and non-threatening. No worries! I’ve been here before. Essentially, I’m on the road through my memories. A road of self-reflection. It’s my long-term Stable self; the lower depressive state but not one that I classify as depression. It’s not as dangerous and I’ve dealt with worse so I’ll take my chances.

With my Bipolar Compass pointed toward the trail, I fumble out of the boat and continue my journey….

…..Hello everyone!

I want to pause for a moment and give you guys a more advanced look into how my interests fuel my imagination and how it fits into the Bipolar context.

First off, I just want to say Happy All Hallows’ Eve to those of you already there! Being in the Western Hemisphere unfortunately means I still have to wait. For someone like me who grew up in a very strict, conservative, and orthodox Protestant Christian home, this fascinating holiday was never something I was allowed to participate in. For those of you who don’t understand why dressing up as a butterfly princess and knocking on strangers doors for candy was a bad idea, let me make this short and say that it had a lot to do with the origins of the holiday. I’m not going to divulge into the pagan rituals and theology but I will say it wasn’t in the best interests of the Church to indulge in “the wicked practices of demonic worship” in spite of the modern traditions we perform now. After spending a wonderful night last year cutting up a pumpkin and making my first ever Jack O’ Lantern, I must say that I really enjoy it.

For those of you who read my About the Author page, you’ll notice I’m very interested in horror video games specifically. As a person with Bipolar Disorder, I can see why people could immediately assume that it’s because I’m “crazy” and enjoy tormenting people or some weird excuse. No that’s not it at all. On the contrary, the beauty and wonder associated with the dark and spookiness is what makes me feel alive. It’s hard to explain. There is a sort of peace immersing yourself in the silent depths of the human soul; the darkest corners where no one ventures. I guess I enjoy the pity party.

Anyways…I cannot do justice to this holiday without mentioning my favorite video game series: Silent Hill. Now before you go and say that the movies were weird and confusing (the first one sucked! Ignore it and go watch Silent Hill: Revelation), let me tell you that movie adaptations of video games are always terrible. It’s a fact of life and I’ve come to terms with it. For those of you who clicked to follow me on my blog, you hopefully saw a “thank you note” that says “Welcome to Silent Hill…we have free WiFi now!” If not, then that means WordPress is really annoying and I still can’t get it to work. >_<

But this isn’t about that. Silent Hill is an allegory of mental illness. It’s a series of psychological horror games that centers around universal psychological and emotional vulnerabilities and fears that reveal the darkest parts of the human psyche that most people may repress or deny. It represents purgatory.

Essentially the basic principles are that there is a town (presumably in Washington or Oregon) that used to be a normal quiet town tourist destination until a demon emerged and took it over and she basically controls the entire town with her nightmares….

…It’s a long long story. Follow me for a bit. Essentially, anyone who stumbles upon this town gets a fun greeting sign:

9291834_orig
http://dholmesportfolio.weebly.com/silent-hill-2-review.html

Anyways…when you stumble upon this town, you are faced with your personal nightmare. The town is different for every person who is unlucky enough to venture into it. The monsters and demons that haunt the town represent the evils within your soul and every once in a while the Other World rears it’s ugly head:

http://images.eurogamer.net/2013/articles/1/7/0/0/9/9/9/why-silent-hill-2-is-still-the-most-disturbing-game-ever-made-140811377518.jpg/EG11/resize/300x-1/quality/80/format/jpg
http://images.eurogamer.net/2013/articles/1/7/0/0/9/9/9/why-silent-hill-2-is-still-the-most-disturbing-game-ever-made-140811377518.jpg/EG11/resize/300x-1/quality/80/format/jpg

It’s essentially Hell.

Silent Hill 2 is the best of the series (you’re wrong if you disagree with me! No I don’t care to hear your opinion) and it explains my analogy the best. It’s about a man named James Sutherland who receives a letter from his wife Mary who died of an illness three years ago. He follows her letter to Silent Hill where he faces a plethora of human-like demons that represent parts of his evil nature. One in particular, who has become an icon for the games is the Executioner aka Pyramid Head:

http://www.gameindustry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/silent-hill-pyramid-head-wallpaper-3.jpg
http://www.gameindustry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/silent-hill-pyramid-head-wallpaper-3.jpg

He represents James’s wish to be punished for Mary’s death. James believes he deserves to die at the hands of this demon. Pyramid Head is a voiceless, faceless demon that follows James throughout the town and tries to kill him. He is the main antagonist in the game and will stop at nothing until he has destroyed James. He is Bipolar.

Ahhhhh…is it starting to click? I’ve been playing these games since before my diagnosis but not until recently have I been able to realize how much it applies to me. This town of Silent Hill is lonely, scary, and dangerous. There is an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. Only until you fight back against the demons in your head will you ever truly find peace. Unfortunately, you never really leave Silent Hill. Once you’ve been there, it can and will call you back. When you do, there will be new demons to fight and new challenges to face. You can never truly escape your own darkness. You can never truly escape Bipolar.

Now some of you may ask, “Jess, you sexy sweet goddess, why don’t you just use Silent Hill as the Map you gave us to navigate your mind (Where Do I Go Now?: Mapping the World of My Mind)?”

My response would be, “Are you nuts?! That place is fucking terrifying!! I got shit to do and I need to sleep at night.”

But there is HOPE! Just because you wander through this town, alone and afraid, doesn’t mean you don’t have these moments of clarity where you realize the reasons why you feel the way you do about your past experiences. Only through self-reflection can we truly understand how to fight our internal battles:

“Greater in battle
than the man who would conquer
a thousand-thousand men,
is he who would conquer
just one — himself”
The Dhammapada

So as this fun holiday approaches, don’t be afraid to sit back and reflect on the demons you have conquered and the ones you have yet to face. Time and suffering are the creators of distortion. Don’t allow the distortion to render you terror-stricken. Stand firm and confront them.


2 thoughts on “Wandering Through Purgatory: A Time Of Self-Reflection

  1. I loved this post! I love that you are sitting in the sand. I love that you have a passion for video games (maybe if I did my kids could relate to me more). I love the description of Silent Hill 2 and kept hoping you would share that James Sutherland was played by Channing Tatum. But I especially love how this post was tied up in a pretty bow at the end. Yes, let’s conquer our demons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my God I love Channing Tatum! My husband is going to read that part and roll his eyes :). There are some video games out there that do teach very profound lessons. People tend to overgeneralize their usefulness or just think that gore and violence are the only reasons to play them. But yes. Let’s conquer our demons! Bipolar isn’t all-powerful. It can be subdued.

      P.S. Silent Hill is really violent and disturbing and is rated MA if your kids wanted to play it.

      Liked by 1 person

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