A Personal Journey by Pam Burke

Like everyone else on this planet my life experiences have placed me in my own unique place. At this point of my life I am shaped by my personality, my DNA (my inheritance from my ancestors), the environment in which I have lived and the people I have met and interacted with along the way.

My mother experienced so called “psychotic” episodes in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father. My mother was treated several times in psychiatric hospitals with shock treatment over the next twenty years. By the end of her full life of seventy-four years she had become a very spiritually aware woman who had come to see her psychiatric illness as a blessing in disguise. She became aware of the spiritual element in her life and was able to use it to see the steps she needed to take to get her life on track. I must stress here that by spiritual I do not mean religious. I mean the inner “knowing” that you have God’s inner wisdom within and there are means to access this wisdom.

My sister experienced her so-called “psychotic” episode after the birth of her daughter sixteen years ago. Although my mother tried to impart what she had learned my sister who was extremely mentally, emotionally and spiritually confused took the advice of the rest of the family and her doctors and started taking psychiatric medication. Sixteen years later after several suicide attempts and many psychiatric admittances her thinking is still clouded in a haze of medication. Her progress has been slow although I do acknowledge her right to do it her way.

My middle daughter started having her first so called “psychotic” episodes after becoming heavily involved in illegal drug use seven years ago. She had been sexually abused as a child (about five years old) and had been unable to tell anyone or deal with it in any way. Consequently her life started going out of control almost immediately. As her mother I could make no sense of her erratic behaviour and when it had finally spiralled out of control when she was fifteen, I took her to her first psychiatrist after her first of many suicide attempts. Six years of psychiatric medication followed, combined with a marijuana habit she had developed at age twelve. At twenty-one she became involved in the drug scene and a horrendous emotional, mental and spiritual journey commenced for her and her family. Over the following three years she had twenty psychiatric admittances and three stints in drug rehab. At age twenty-four at a stage of utter hopelessness she stood in front of a train at Kuraby station.

Two years before her death I also experienced my first so-called “psychotic” episode following the stress of my daughters condition. I was fifty years of age. Because I had seen several different ways of dealing with this indescribable fear phenomena of “psychosis” I steered clear of drug treatment. I tried psychotherapy, counselling and acupuncture. I know now that I was spiritually lead down that path and am most grateful for that. Over the past six years I have dealt with the tragic death of my darling daughter and the betrayal of my best friend’s husband who had sexually abused my daughter. I have come to terms with the disbelief of my family and friends of the cause of my daughter’s distress. My husband and I also raise the one-year-old grand daughter my daughter left behind. I have been able to accept my daughter’s journey and forgive the man who betrayed my daughter. I have reached a deep understanding about sexual abuse. I have re established loving ties with my family (after much continuing angst). I am blessed daily with the knowledge I am raising my daughter’s child so she can live the life my daughter was unable to live.

How has this happened?

My “psychotic” episode was my awakening. My sheer terror opened the channels of spiritual awareness. My feeling is that many people are born spiritually aware and many are not. Many religious people are not necessarily spiritual. It is very difficult to understand the opposite position. I have experienced both – just like most people in psychiatric hospitals diagnosed as “schizophrenic” or “manic-depressive”. For fifty years I was an intellectual sceptic. No one could have convinced me of a higher power with just words. The time of my awakening was horrendous. I had no knowledge of what was happening to me. As well as spiritual “knowing” my ego and personality went into overdrive and I nearly went crazy. I am most grateful for my mother’s experience, my sister’s experience and my daughter’s experiences. I learned from them all. I now have a “knowing” that we are all here for a reason and we continue to exist in some form after death. Gary Zukov says in his book that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and this also is my belief. I have had many beautiful experiences since my daughter died but only because I know it is possible and I am open to the experience. I know she is where she wants to be and she is pleased I was able to discover why her life careered out of control and why she took her life. I continue to have a relationship with her even though she is deceased just like I do with all the others in my life who have predeceased me. I know that to be the best we can be and achieve what we need to achieve on earth we must be loving, compassionate, forgiving, authentic and balanced. To access the wisdom of the planet you need to be healthy mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and what a challenge that is for every one of us. There are many good people out there who are not spiritually aware who lead exemplary lives and there are many out there who are spiritually aware who lead destructive lives. A balanced life is the key and what I strive for. I see so many living their lives habitually and not seeing the big picture. I know because I was one of them and continue to be to a large degree.

I feel particular empathy with those like my sister labouring under the misdiagnosis of mental illness rather than spiritual awakening. So many of our brightest and wise are made to feel they have nothing to offer their world because they are told they are sick. I feel depression is a normal reaction for human beings when their lives are not in tune with their spiritual direction. These are people who are becoming aware of their feelings and it is by being aware of our feelings we can make better decisions in our life. I believe that is why depression is becoming endemic in our societies. Lots of people who have healthy egos would not know what it is to be depressed. Our culture promotes success, money, possessions and happiness. Those who are not achieving this believe they are failures. I know I am not alone in being able to see how much better our world would be if we could all see the hand of God working amongst us. However this is not how it is at present. It is my wish that those of us who have been awakened could find a way to help those who at this time of our evolution are being lead in the wrong direction by those who through no fault of their own cannot yet see Gods magnificence.

Mental illness is confused thinking. Who wouldn’t be confused if you were told that instead of accessing a special awareness or intuition you were actually deranged- I have been made to feel quite mad at times of my greatest experiences and awareness’s. Because of our own individual personality and our life experiences we view spiritual awareness in our own unique way. No two ways are the same. Needless to say proving a spiritual experience scientifically is impossible. We have come to think that if something cannot be proven scientifically it is not true. How can someone’s individual “knowing” be proven- Consequently although we are all being subjected to spiritual experience constantly most people dismiss it or can’t see it. I know I miss many experiences and my personality and ego constantly distort many of the experiences I do have. However each day things become clearer and my life changes for the better. I know that if I continue on this journey, I will be able to cope with whatever life throws at me in a far more effective manner. I know that I have made only minute inroads into this subject but hopefully more and more are also making the same inroads and together we can achieve a level of improvement in the lives of our most disadvantaged and tap into their undoubted wisdom.