We needed IVF to have our children. For the second pregnancy, having tried every other conceivable (or, rather, not) option, we went to a controversial clinic in London (so controversial it had been investigated on BBC’s Panorama, not generally a good way to choose your medical advisor). The success rates of the clinic were astronomical probably due, as I was to find out, to the ferocious intensity of their treatment.
So there I was in London for 8 weeks having injections of concentrated hormones four times a day. Some so powerful, they had to be injected into my bottom. (TMI I’m sure, sorry).
A few days after starting the treatment, already covered in purple bruises from the needles, it seemed that the whole world was out to get me. London looked like the most miserable place in the world, the receptionist in the clinic hated me, the other patients in the clinic were hopeless and unfriendly, I lost my purse, the taxi driver was rude. I hated myself. I hated life. I hated everyone.
And then I metaphorically grabbed the arms of the people next to me in a cinematic ‘WAIT. STOP. I KNOW WHAT”S GOING ON’ and said ‘Hoooollllldddd on a minute. For the last four days I’ve been injecting myself with a super strength mood altering substance that probably isn’t even approved. It’s not the world! It’s just my mood. I can’t trust anything about how I see the world right now.’
I realised that for the length of that treatment I would be mad. And I was. I would cry or laugh for no reason. I would believe that my beloved family was neglecting me and then that they were mollycoddling me. I would interpret no phone call from my husband as a sign that he wanted a divorce. I would interpret a phone call from him as a sign that he had something to hide. I hated my friends. I loved my friends.
Ecstatic, tearful, devastated, indifferent, furious, confused… who knows what I would be experiencing at any one moment. I was on the craziest roller coaster.
And what saved me was that I knew I was mad. I could look out on the world and account for what I was experiencing. It was like watching a film that would draw me into thinking it was real but then the slightest touch on my aching arm from which blood was being taken twice a day reminded me – Clare, don’t believe what you are seeing. It’s not them, it’s not the world, it’s not even you. It’s just how all of this appears right now.’
When I felt defensive, or offended or mis-treated (how can they do this to me at a time when I am taking all these hormones… oh the irony) I could feel the hugeness of the emotion and the pain of the perceived slight but most of the time I didn’t react because I knew deep down that this was simply part of the madness. I just watched. Sometimes I wouldn’t catch it in time and would react to something I perceived, then afterwards I would realise and I could say ‘I know I am not seeing things clearly right now so please hang in there with me.’
It is the most mad and the most sane I’ve ever been. During those eight weeks my world went crazy but because I categorically, 100% attributed everything in my experience to those hormones I could just allow it to be as it was. I put all my experience, every single part of it, under the label of ‘hormone injections’.
I didn’t have to change anything, I didn’t have to react, I didn’t have to try to make myself feel better. And with that knowledge, I kept turning again and again to what I simply knew to do – eat well, rest, let people help me, have time with my family, cuddle my daughter… Not one moment of my time or energy was wasted in trying to change my experience.
And what I’ve come to realise over the last two years of studying the understanding that we experience the world from the inside out is that we are all of us almost always in varying degrees of madness.
Any moment that it looks to us that our feelings are coming from the outside, we are mad.
Any moment that it looks to us that we have to change something outside or control our environment in order to be OK, we are mad.
Any moment that it looks to us that we have to find a solution to our swirling, stressful thoughts, we are mad.
Any moment that it looks like our well-being is not constant or innate and is dependent on what we see outside, we are mad.
It is the implicit wonderful madness of being human. And this implicit wonderful madness goes hand in hand with implicit wonderful sanity.
The good news for all our bottoms is that we don’t even need eight weeks of hormone injections to help make it clear to us.
The fact that we can experience and feel Thought means we are also capable of knowing it is just Thought. That is built into the human design. The two are inseparable. We are conscious, we know that we think, therefore we know deep down that we are not our thoughts.
Knowing this means we can not just weather but flourish in any hormonal storm, any change in body chemistry, any change in our energy or physical health, any change in the things that we perceive ‘out there’.
When we put all of our experience, 100% of it down to what it really comes from – the ebb and flow of mental energy. We never need to take our thoughts, our experience, our feelings seriously. They can just simply be as they are.
There is the way we are perceiving the world which will change and then there is the unchanging truth: that we are conscious, intelligent, infinitely creative, connected and capable. And when we connect into this, when we come from this place, who we are and what we will do is so obvious, so clear, so ‘right’ that our life flows effortlessly. This is the only guide we ever need.
Madness and sanity are both ours. The madness means we get to experience a self, a world, other people as though they are separate and objective. The sanity allows us to know the truth of who we really are underneath all of this.
No injections required.