Five years ago, I had a psychotic episode and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It took about a year and a half for me to stabilize enough to not have to be in the hospital. My psychiatrist then changed the diagnosis to Bipolar disorder. It took me five years to understand and accept that I need medication to manage this disease. On a side note, my first episode occurred at a time when my sadhana was at a low ebb, so it taught me the need for consistency and steadiness in my daily practice.
One thing that has been a constant aid to me in my recovery is Kundalini Yoga. If I’m feeling angry, there is a yoga set for that. If I’m feeling fear, there’s one for that too. I have been practicing the DVD set Eliminating Inner Anger by Yogi Bhajan fairly regularly for a few months now. Along with cold showers and reading the Guru’s Bani, the set is one of my lifelines to a stable existence. My favorite CD for listening to banis is the double Daily Banis cd by Amarjit Kaur. I’ve found that the Eliminating Inner Anger set takes a homeopathic approach: it makes me angry while I do it, then the rest of the day it’s a lot easier to manage my anger. It’s sort of like taking out the trash in my own body and mind. For me, there is no substitute for medication, which takes a different approach to the same problem, directly changing my brain chemistry.
Some people in the mental health field believe that mental disorders can be managed, but never cured. I feel fortunate to have grown up in 3ho, a culture where we are taught from a young age that anything is possible. If I have this disorder for the rest of my life, so be it. I will still try to cure it, despite what some people tell me. For me, medication and yoga are equally effective in this process, and equally necessary.