April 6, 2007
Sixteen years ago I had a psychotic episode that was diagnosed as bipolar illness. I have struggled to manage my condition ever since. I've studied Oom Yung Doe for the last 7 months and in that short period the practice has reduced the amplitude of my mood swings and helped me voyage back to the person I was before my psychotic episode.
Until Oom Yung Doe the side-effects of the medication sapped all my energy and creativity. For all those years I accepted that I could not do art work, I would sleep long hours and I would not have the energy or stamina that made it possible to enjoy creative hobbies and a rewarding social life. I accepted this and decided I would dedicate what little energy I had to my career and family.
In August 2006 I began Oom Yung Doe merely to get exercise. I had no idea what I was in for. Practicing has forced me to conquer many fears and an extreme lack of trust that often go with bipolar illness. My biggest catharsis happened on the eve of my second test. Without warning my instructors wanted me to learn new movements the night before I was to be tested. I felt betrayed and set me up for failure. I spent more time crying and yelling than trying to learn the simple things the instructors wanted to teach me. How could I possibly learn anything on the eve of a test? With all this fear and lack of trust I'm not sure how I managed to drag myself to the test the following night. Once I was there I began to relax and suddenly it seemed so silly to get upset. Ironically I was able to do the movements they taught me at the last minute better than the movements I had practiced for several months. I drove home laughing my head off. Perhaps I should have been grieving for how much fear had controlled my life and the dire effects it had on my mental wellbeing. I began to realize that my panic mode creates an unhealthy mental block. When I resist and hold back with fear or rage I obsess and fire the neurons over and over about the same issue -- neurons zapping over and over until it burns a hole in my brain and sets off mania or depression.
The exercises in Oom Yung Doe completely clear my mind. When I concentrate it truly gives me a vacation from my own head. Nae Shim Gong also stops obsessive thinking with an added benefit of calming me down. I have not had my major highs or lows at all this year. Usually I am extremely depressed in February, and this year I felt fine - surprised me and my psychiatrist.
Back to the night of the test, I remember Regional Instructor Brad talking about how the practice gets us in touch with our own strengths and weaknesses. I know he was referring to our physical condition but while I drove home laughing I realized that my sense of humor had returned, one of my unique strengths that I had missed for the past 16 years. Prior to my psychotic episode and subsequent drug treatments I had laughed and made others feel amused. I had forgotten how good that felt. Since that evening I have been drawing cartoons and making myself and others hoot and howl. Now I am doing artwork and participating in creative projects in my spare time. My stamina has increased and I have the energy to get out and see the world, listen to music and I have the endurance to enjoy long conversations with friends and meet new people.
As these changes were taking place none of my close friends or family (those who know the signs of manic episodes and warn me when they see me becoming "too high" or dangerously "happy") showed any concern. They were telling me that I seemed calm and relaxed and easy to have around.
In January I saw my doctor to have my medication levels checked and they were too elevated, which meant that I had to reduce the amount of medication I was taking. This also meant that I would also have fewer side effects. Could there have been any better news than that? I am currently on a dosage that is staggeringly low considering my height and weight.
It is easy to dismiss my story as corollary evidence and say that it's all a coincidence. However I believe Oom Yung Doe has medicinal powers which can not be denied from my personal experience. Anyone with bipolar illness tries to do things to feel better but I have always been absolutely compliant with my doctors and accepted that I will always take medicine regardless of the annoying side effects. I believe that with out it I would not be alive today to share these experiences.
My life has changed so much since Oom Yung Doe I remain astounded. Nothing has impacted my mental health or my quality of life as drastically and in such a short period of time as Oom Yung Doe. Even my Doctor is perplexed by my reduced need for high doses of medication and cheers me on with, "Keep going."
46 year old female