I try to sit on my yoga mat for 20 minutes in meditation a few days a week. I feel mentally and physically balanced. But I am no expert in meditation. I had some questions about my practice and my meditation teacher at the zendo was half a country away in Chicago. So I talked to meditation instructor Susan Piver on the benefits and detriments of meditation when you have a mental health condition.
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I interviewed Melody Moezzi, an Iranian-American bipolar Muslim feminist activist, an attorney, a writer and author of the award-winning books War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims and Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life. She blogs for BP Magazine as well as The Huffington Post and Ms. Magazine. We talked about Moezzi’s latest book Haldol and Hyacinths and Muslims and mental health.
I pace frantically while I talk raucously into the telephone outside the college newspaper office. What began as a routine phone call to find out some more information for a story ends up turning into a diatribe about how I plan to take over the Massachusetts Democratic Party and enact my politics of the impossible agenda. Thrown into the conversation at random are quick sexual jokes and other random puns leaving the person on the other end of the phone line confused and frightened.
I went off my meds, and the result was not pretty. When I am compliant, my meds work well for me, affording me a relatively normal life. I stabilize on my meds. Then months and years pass, and I think I am cured. I think I don’t need them anymore. So, I stop taking them. At first, everything seems fine, but within a few days, I am paranoid, hearing voices, rapid cycling, talking fast, making poor decisions, and rapidly climbing the ladder of mania. This past time I tested the limits of everybody around me.
The year is 2000. I’m working as a journalist in a small Connecticut shoreline town. I’m barely hanging on. My brain is shorting out. No one on or off staff knows how to help me.
During this time, I would stay up all night working on stories, then come into work the next morning disheveled and ranting. I would laugh at inappropriate things. My bipolar disorder, diagnosed in 1996 while I was in college, had been triggered and I refused to take medication since the ones they put me on didn’t work anyway.
Alexis Zinkerman is a freelance writer, advocate, and journalist. Her novella Brooklyn’s Song is available on Amazon. She holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University and an MLIS. Alexis loves running, meditation, yoga, photography, cooking healthy foods, and fitness. She was first diagnosed with bipolar 1 in 1996, but it took many more years to find the right treatment course.