Raised in ordinary circumstances, she became successful in real estate, married twice, and raised a couple of kids. In her thirties she became severely depressed, a state that lasted ten years. She suffered from bouts of rage that terrified her children. Agoraphobia set in; she stayed in bed for weeks at a time, neglecting to wash or bathe, and eventually checked herself into an eating disorders clinic, the only facility her insurance company would pay for. At the clinic, her anger was so frightening to the other patients that she was placed in a separate attic room, where she slept on the floor because she felt unworthy of a bed. About two weeks later, she woke up one morning in a state of unalloyed clarity and joy. She felt that she was no longer herself and that she wasn't separate from anything in the universe. An "it," or perhaps a larger "I," was looking out through her eyes. And she understood that all suffering comes from thoughts.
Richard Lawrence Cohen writes about Byron Katie of Barstow, Arizona.
Returning home shortly afterward, her state of joyous understanding endured. She reconciled with her astounded family. She spent a good deal of time in the nearby desert, sitting in the wind. Word of her awakening spread locally and people began coming to her with questions about their lives. When they told her of their perceived problems, she would ask, "Honey, is that true?" and lead them to see that their sufferings were built on misconceptions of what ought to be or of what was being done to them.
This is my first hearing about this woman and her work. I pass it along for anyone for whom it may be a way out of hell. I'm thinking particularly of those with BPD, shunned by professionals and non-responsive to pharmaceutical approaches.
Last week's post about Intermittent Explosive Disorder (to which I have since read several snarky, shallow and ignorant references) referred to Borderline Personality Disorder, a more serious and less tractible condition of which I am aware in a very personal way.
I have known several crazy people in my time (aside from myself) and have spent a lot of energy analyzing crazy behavior. Observing many thousands of the public over the years has also given me ample opportunitiy to witness many puzzling human behaviors.
The prison population is neatly divided for management purposes into two groups, violent or non-violent, regardless of the crime. My lay opinion is that crazy people can also be divided simply into two groups: those with problems deriving from "chemical imbalance" and those whose problems seem to be purely "mental."
This approach is, of course, carelessly unscientific. But considering the success rate of science in finding remedies for substance abuse, criminal recidivism, eating disorders or suicide rates among population groups who have little reason for despair...I submit that any "self-help" tools that can be added to the toolbox are worth a try.
Again, I report. You decide.
Here is a selection from the Book of Common Prayer for Those in Mental Darkness:
O HEAVENLY Father, we beseech thee to have mercy upon all thy children who are living in mental darkness. Restore them to strength of mind and cheerfulness of spirit, and give them health and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.